PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As someone trying to make a team on a non-roster invitation, Brandon Inge has had a worst-case scenario Spring Training.
For openers, his participation was delayed, as the Pirates knew it would be, as he wrapped up rehabilitating his throwing shoulder from September surgery. Then, midway through the Grapefruit League schedule, he took a pitch off his right shoulder blade. The pain was enough to require X-rays five days ago, which were negative.
The pain hasn't miraculously gone away. But with the Bucs facing a Tuesday morning decision on his status -- make him official by adding him to the roster, or release him -- Inge had no choice but to play Monday night. All night, all over the infield, first and third base.
"It's pretty painful," Inge said after a 1-for-5 night that, on close observation, improved with each at-bat. "But I'm trying to give them a good shot [at evaluating me]. I'm giving it my best. But it is hard to do. It's painful, but ..."
Despite a poor spring on the surface -- 6-for-37 (.162) with no RBIs, awkward moments adapting to first base -- Inge has a booster in Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who sounded still willing to take a chance on the versatile veteran.
"In a perfect world," Hurdle said after the Bucs' 6-2 loss to the Rays, "you would've liked to have had him on the field more in different places, and get him more at-bats. A lot of the reasons we brought him here are still relevant. You're dealing with a guy who'd come off the bench, and the question is, do you still have time for him to get right once the season starts? I think you would. But you want to make sure, and we're still having those conversations."
Inge struck out against Tampa Bay southpaw Matt Moore his first two times up, lined out to right in at-bat No. 3, rolled a single up the middle on his next chance and ended his evening by pulling a hard liner, but right at the third baseman.
In the field, Inge couldn't handle shortstop Clint Barmes' rather routine throw on a two-out grounder by Shelley Duncan in the bottom of the fourth, drawing an error on the play.
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.