ST. PETERSBURG, Fla -- Released by the Tigers after wearing the Olde English D for more than 11 seasons, Brandon Inge is determined to take the high road in his new role as an aging veteran with the rookie-laden Oakland A's.
But the 34-year-old infielder can't help but believe he will enjoy the last laugh in his new surroundings.
"I laugh at all those people who said I was done," Inge said Friday. "It cracks me up. It makes me laugh.
"I don't want to make excuses, but all I needed was the opportunity to play every day. That's what I'm getting here. I feel better than I have in three or four years. My body. My swing. Everything.
"I love it here, I absolutely love it. It's so laid back. But it's a confident laid back. There's no pressure. No worries. I don't feel old. These guys make me feel young. I like it."
An added benefit is the fact that Inge's favorite tattoo artist resides in the Oakland area. "My whole body might be tatted up now," he said.
Taylor makes start in left field
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla -- Michael Taylor had just settled in to watch a movie, "Think Like A Man," in a Sacramento, Calif., theater Wednesday evening when he felt his cell phone vibrating.
"Get packed right away. You're going to the big leagues," the caller said.
"I only saw about seven minutes of the movie," Taylor said Friday. "Luckily, we were able to get our money back."
The A's called up Taylor to replace Coco Crisp, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 3, suffering from an inner ear infection.
Friday morning, Taylor was relaxing in his hotel room in St. Petersburg, watching TV and letting it all sink in, when he learned left-hander David Price would be starting for the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night.
"I thought right then, 'Maybe I have a chance,'" the 26-year-old right-handed slugger said.
When he arrived at Tropicana Field, Taylor found his name in the starting lineup in left field. "Hopefully, I can contribute," he said.
"You go and you hope. Now comes the easy part. I've got to play."
"You like to get him in there and get him part of it right away," A's manager Bob Melvin explained.
"He knew he was coming up to be a safety valve. He's going to get some playing time. There's a good chance he'll be in the lineup enough to get a good look at him."
Taylor was hitting .347 with 13 doubles, two homers and 18 RBIs in 23 games with Sacramento and ranked second on the River Cats in on-base percentage (.390) and slugging percentage (.547). He was also leading the team in stolen bases with six, which could be significant as he fills in for the speedy Crisp.
"I hear he's playing with a lot more confidence across the board," Melvin said.
Taylor was called up last September and hit .200 in 11 games. "This looks like as good an opportunity as he's had at the major league level," Melvin said.
Crisp, who was removed from Wednesday's game in the eighth inning after going 0-for-4, was hitting .194 with no home runs and five RBI in 18 games.
Suzuki fine after taking fastball on hand
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla -- When Kurt Suzuki was drilled on the left hand by a fastball Wednesday night, A's manager Bob Melvin feared the worst.
"When I first saw it, I thought potentially it was something bad," Melvin admitted Friday.
Not to worry. Suzuki was back in the lineup behind the plate against the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night.
"His hand is swollen, but not too bad," Melvin explained. "And he wanted to play. He's a little beat up. But he's a very tough kid. He plays with any number of injuries over the course of the season."
Friday marked Suzuki's 23rd start of the season behind the plate, which ties him for the Major League lead. Since 2008, he has started 539 games behind the plate, most in the Major Leagues during that time span.
Suzuki, who was hitless in five previous at-bats in his career against the Rays' David Price, drove Jonny Gomes home with a second-inning double to give the A's a 1-0 lead.
• The A's got 4 2/3 hitless, shutout innings from relievers Pedro Figueroa, Jerry Blevens and Jim Miller -- one of the few bright spots for the A's -- but it was too late. Blevins struck out three in his 1 2/3 innings of work.
"That was as good as I've seen him," Melvin said.
• With a win on Friday night, the A's would have climbed above the .500 mark for the first time since May 18.
• With about 10 family members, including his parents who live in the Orlando area looking on, rookie Michael Taylor, just called up from Triple-A Sacramento, started in left field for the A's.
Taylor became the 35th player the A's have employed this season, the most of any team in the Major Leagues. And he is the 12th rookie, also a Major League high. They used a total of 14 rookies all last year. The A's currently have eight rookies on their 25-man roster.
Taylor, who flew to Florida from Sacramento, believes he may have set a Major League record for cross-country flights in a week. Last weekend, he flew to Baltimore to be on hand in the event Coco Crisp couldn't play, then flew back to California two days later without ever being placed on the 25-man roster.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.