Sox GM Rick Hahn thought he filled a gapping hole at third base this offseason when he signed free-agent Jeff Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million deal. And he may well have, but we’ll have to wait to be sure. Keppinger has had an assortment of injuries dating back to a broken fibula in December and is currently dealing with shoulder soreness. While it has only cost the 32-year-old a few at-bats this spring, he has yet to do exactly what he was brought here to do: man the hot corner.
The club’s medical personnel don’t believe the injury is serious, but Keppinger only played in 115 games last year with the Tampa Bay Rays. Add to that the 99 games played in San Francisco in 2011 and it isn’t shocking that Robin Ventura will certainly be asking Brent Morel to bring his glove to the game everyday. And while some of Keppinger’s offensive numbers are nice (.288 lifetime average/.806 OPS last year), more then anything he needs to be a durable in 2013 if the Pale Hose are going to have a shot in the competitive AL Central.
Keppinger still has over a month to get ready for the start of the season, so it might be a bit premature to press the panic button. But this is a situation that deserves monitoring as the calendar turns to March. It might not seem like it, but the number of days to get ready for opening day is slowly growing smaller.
Follow Brian on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Brian_Henkels