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Pirates notebook: Inge gets start against former team

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Brandon Inge pops out against the Athletics during the fourth inning Monday, July 8, 2013, at PNC Park.

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Monday, July 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

With Neil Walker still ailing from right side soreness, Brandon Inge got a second consecutive start at second base Monday night for the series opener against the Oakland Athletics.

It's an opponent with which Inge is familiar.

Inge appeared in 74 games with the A's last season after being released by Detroit on April 29. He recorded 29 RBI in his first 25 games and finished with 52 on the season while batting .226 in between multiple stints on the disabled list.

Inge was 0 for 4 on Sunday, his 21st start of the season, and recorded the final out of the inning three times, once with runners on second and third and once with a runner on first. He also advanced runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt.

Defensively, Inge made a terrific diving stop in the first inning but also bobbled the ball on a double play attempt in the second.

Inge, who is primarily in a bench role for the first time this season, admitted that not playing regularly has been difficult. Going into Monday's game, he was batting .190 with a .214 on-base percentage and a .250 slugging percentage.

“I know if my role is not going to be playing, then the way for me to help out is to help the other guys, and I've done that,” he said. “I think the most important part about being a bench guy is not to become a cancer or a bad attitude in the clubhouse, which is really easy to do because I'll be honest — and I'm pretty sure anyone would be lying if they said it wasn't — it's very hard sitting and watching a baseball game. Especially for me. I love baseball, I love playing it. I'm not a big fan of watching it. But I do love every one of the guys in this room, and I'll do anything I can to help, so it's a balancing act.”

No word on Walker

Walker fielded ground balls and said he did not have an MRI on Monday, but manager Clint Hurdle didn't have an update on his status as of Monday afternoon.

“I've been in my office all afternoon, but I spoke with Neil earlier today and we were going to do a heat and treat and get him out there and try to get him warmed up, do some things with the bat,” Hurdle said. “I have not caught up with him since and think he's going through that process right now.”

Hurdle said any discussion about a possible trip to the disabled list is premature, but he said they do have options to consider should the situation arise.

“In-house, we've got (Clint) Barmes who can play short and (Jordy) Mercer who could move to second,” Hurdle said. “We've got Inge who can play second. We've got a guy in Triple-A who's played second most of the season in Josh Harrison if he went to the DL, so there are still multiple fronts out there.”

Priorities in line

Because Jeff Locke will pitch Sunday, the last day before the All-Star break, he likely will not pitch in the All-Star Game despite his selection to the team.

“I would prioritize our need over their need,” Hurdle said. “I just give a big round of applause to the awareness of Bruce (Bochy), the staff and whoever the selection committee was for acknowledging the young man. There will be a couple other pitchers who will go and not be able to pitch.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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