Tigers beat Phillies, 6-2

March 5, 2008 5:36:01 PM PST
Brandon Inge has found a position he is willing to play while he is still with Detroit. The displaced third baseman started in center field for the Tigers in a 6-2 victory over the Philadephia Phillies on Wednesday in a split-squad game.

"I'll play center," said Inge, who lost his start job at third when the Tigers acquired Mguel Cabrera. "I still need to learn to adjust to the sun, but it's like golf. Think about the elements and make the play." Granderson that he's going to take his position.

Inge's intial attempt at swtiching positions didn't fare as well. After catching for the first time since 2004 - he came up as a catcher - on Sunday, Inge said he didn't want to have to put on the gear. Detroit manager Jim Leyland told him he wouldn't have to.

Inge batted .236 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs for the Tigers last season. He has asked for a trade because he still wants to be an everyday third baseman.

Justin Verlander started for the Tigers and went three innings, allowing only one hit while facing the minimum nine batters.

Denny Bautista is making a bid for a spot on Detroit's staff He pitched two more scoreless innings Wednesday, running his spring string to seven. He has allowed only two hits and walked two. He allowed a walk against the Phillies.

The Tigers are weak in the bullpen, the one lingering concern on a team that boasts five front line starters and one of baseball's most powerful lineups. Relievers Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are both question marks heading into the season. Zumaya is expected to miss the first half of the season.

Bautista has stepped up and Leyland has taken notice.

"He has worked on his mechanics and he is throwing strikes," Leyland said. "He gets feeling good about himself and gets better when he does that. He needs to do that more."

J.D. Durbin started for the Phillies and lasted four innings, allowing three runs all came on homers.

Carlos Guillen hit two over the tall fence in right field and Magglio Ordonez also homered to right.

The Phillies were hoping Durbin would contend for a spot as they try to repeat as NL East champions, but he has a 7.50 ERA after two spring starts. He pitched in 19 games for the Phillies last season.

"He got his work in," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He is OK. Yes, he gave up three bombs, but we are still looking for a fifth starter. He might get three or four more chances this spring."

Jason Grilli had a shaky outing, allowing two runs and four hits in two innings. Zach Miner closed it out with two scoreless innings.

Notes:

Leyland said that he has been impressed by Miner but Miner had a long way to go before heading for Detroit in April ... Leyland also was impressed with several of the Tigers prospects, including Clete Thomas who had a hit against the Phillies. He's a longshot to make the team, but Leyland said he was one of five or six prospect s who have earned attention ... Dontrelle Willis will make his second start for the Tigers on Thursday against the Atlanta Braves, but that came as news to Leyland. "I let Chuck Hernandez handle all that," Leyland said. "I only know who's pitching when I see them coming in." ... Ivan Rodriguez will skip tomorrow's game. With backup catcher Vance Wilson doubtful for opening day and Inge uncomfortable with catching, Leyland said he had no idea who would catch against the Braves but it would be a good opportunity for someone to stand out as a contender to backup Rodriguez until Wilson returns.


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