Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge
PITTSBURGH (USA TODAY)- The Pittsburgh Pirates are wearing Penguins hockey jerseys on their road trip to Milwaukee and Detroit that begins with a flight tonight, but infielder Brandon Inge might have trouble getting through airport security.
Inge took the support for the city's NHL team, which leads its playoff series with Ottawa 3-1, to an extreme before today's game when he entered the clubhouse in a Mario Lemieux jersey - plus full hockey gear and on rollerblades.
He toured the clubhouse - finding the carpet there much more difficult to handle on wheels than the cement floor of the stadium tunnel - and training room before heading to the players' lounge.
"Just showing my support," said Inge, a big hockey fan who's never played the game but has two sons who do. "Man, I'm sweating already and all I did was a 40-second shift and had a goal scored on me. I don't know how those guys do it."
Inge swapped his hockey helmet for a catcher's mask and stood in front of a hockey net in the middle of clubhouse as teammate took shots - using sticks stashed in the clubhouse area shared by Inge and second baseman Neil Walker.
The results? "That's why I'm not a goalie," Inge said.
Canadian native Russell Martin grabbed a stick and checked out Inge's padding with a couple of crosschecks to the shoulder blades and a quick lesson on the damage that can be done with the butt end of a stick.
Manager Clint Hurdle, like Inge a hockey fan with a Michigan background, came up with the jersey idea and the Penguins sent him a number 13 jersey with his name on it.
Hurdle says not everyone in clubhouse was a hockey fan to begin with.
"Maybe half of us," he says. "Now, the other guys have no choice."