BRADENTON, Fla. -- Brandon Inge, a hard-nosed and winning ballplayer, has agreed to a Minor League contract with the Pirates that includes an invitation to report to Spring Training along with other position players on Thursday.
The transaction, which was made official on Wednesday, is a strong indication that Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle and the club's general manager, Neal Huntington, feel the team has progressed to the point it can benefit from the presence of another veteran with stretch-drive and postseason experience.
Inge, a 35-year-old veteran of 12 big league seasons, the majority of it playing third base, had spent his entire career in Detroit until drawing his release by the Tigers late last April. Four days later, he was signed by the Oakland A's. Although Inge hit two grand slams and drove in 17 runs within his first two weeks with the A's, his acknowledged leadership abilities had more to do than his production with Oakland's surprising charge to the American League West title.
Inge played his last game on Sept. 1 before being sidelined by an injury to his right shoulder and subsequent arthroscopic surgery. In 83 games last season, all but nine with the A's, Inge batted .218 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs.
Inge missed Oakland's playoff games but starred in two postseasons with the Tigers, batting a cumulative .288 in 23 games in 2006 and 2011.
He would be the Pirates' second newcomer with considerable postseason experience, following catcher Russell Martin.
That kind of experience can rub off on a team that has suffered meltdowns in consecutive Septembers, said Hurdle.
"Guys who who can compete through the long season and finish strong can definitely help," Hurdle said. "A guy who's experienced it can help the rest of the club, the guys who have not done it as well as they would've liked to. Maybe they can point out some things to give the others a better opportunity to finish."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.