For all the uniforms he has worn these past two years, rarely is it a different story with Brandon Inge.

He still thinks of himself as this eternal member of the Tigers family. In fact, once his playing days have ceased, which isn't in the immediate picture, Inge has this dream of re-connecting with his old town and team if there were ever a place for him.

He would love to coach. Or scout. Or work in some baseball-flavored niche when he finally calls it quits. Just as long as it is with a Tigers franchise that signed him in 1998 and made him a lineup staple until he departed last season for a new life with the A's, and now the Pirates.

"I'd probably, one day, like to stay part of that organization in some way," said Inge, who Tuesday hit third for the Triple A Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates farm team, against the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field.

"One thing I've learned through the years in this game is reading people. It's why I respect Al Kaline so much. He's still helping the Tigers in so many ways. But what impresses me is that he's such a great personality reader."

Inge was in Toledo on Tuesday for reasons that, typical of his recent years, were complicated. He is on the disabled list after he was hit by a 98-mph pitch that fractured his right scapula during a Grapefruit League game last month.

At that time, Inge had all but won a job with the Pirates, who signed him during the offseason. He is viewed by the Pirates as a handyman who can play anywhere, which makes him particularly valuable in a league where pitchers hit and double-switches are routine.

How long this latest gig lasts is anyone's guess. Inge hit .162 during his Grapefruit League tuneup. He turns 36 next month. Nothing is guaranteed, including a call-up when he comes off the disabled list.

But he won't retire. Not yet. Not until he has run out of options, or ideally, decided he simply has had enough.

"They (Pirates) wouldn't have taken me on the team if I didn't have something to offer," said Inge, who was hitting a not-so-robust .139 in 11 games for the Indians. "I've got a 36-year-old body with a 21-year-old mind-set."

At other moments, he thinks about the future. He still lives in Saline, still spends his non-baseball hours with his sons, Chase and Tyler. During his years with the Tigers, a kid from Virginia decided Michigan and Metro Detroit had grabbed him, permanently.

"Detroit's home for me," said Inge, who a few minutes later would leave for the batting cage and some pregame swings. "It's the place where I was able to play baseball as long as I did.

"It's not something you experience for as long as I did and not call it home. In my mind, I'll always be a Tiger."