After hitting .325 and striking out just 31 times in 385 at-bats in 2012, Jeff Keppinger appeared to be a decent free agent signing by the Chicago White Sox this offseason. However, his first spring in a White Sox uniform hasn’t exactly gone as planned.
With a freak offseason ankle injury, Keppinger was expected to be somewhat hampered in Spring Training. Now a full month into camp, the ankle is no longer Keppinger’s issue. Instead, the infielder’s throwing shoulder is limiting him.
It seems as if Keppinger’s shoulder has been affecting him this whole spring. In his White Sox Cactus League debut on Feb. 24, the 32-year-old was penciled in as the South Siders DH, not third baseman. Since then, his shoulder hasn’t improved as quickly as we thought, and he was recently starched from a start due to irritation in his shoulder.
Now, Sox manager Robin Ventura has even stated that Keppinger may start at second for awhile when he returns. However, Ventura made it clear they just want to be cautious
So, is the consistent injury news surrounding Keppinger something for White Sox fans to worry about?
As of right now, no. In his 21 spring at-bats, the third baseman has impressed with a .476 AVG, proving he’s worth his three-year, $12 million contract.
That being said, with less than three weeks until Opening Day, Keppinger doesn’t have the luxury of playing it safe for much longer. Not to mention the fact that third baseman, Conor Gillaspie, is making his case to not only make the Sox roster, but also compete with Keppinger for playing time. With a triple-slash line of .320/.357/.760, Gillaspie has opened a lot of eyes thus far.
All White Sox fans can do at this point is believe Ventura and hope Keppinger will be ready to go come Apr. 1. My gut feeling is that he will be fine once the calendar hits April. However, shoulder problems have proven to be a tough injury to come back from, just look at John Danks a season ago.