Keppinger returns to White Sox lineup

Keppinger returns to White Sox lineup

March 17, 2013, 6:30 pm
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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jeff Keppinger doesn’t anticipate his shoulder irritation will be a lingering issue.

Keppinger’s status qualifies as good news for the White Sox, who have had a few recent minor injuries. The third baseman, who started at designated hitter Sunday in his first appearance since March 9, is expected to return to the field Tuesday, per manager Robin Ventura.

But Keppinger, who first sat out with right shoulder irritation and then missed three days for a personal matter, believes his body continues to heal properly.

[RELATED: Opening Day start the next step for Chris Sale]

Since his arrival, Keppinger has anticipated his shoulder might take longer to prepare because he wasn’t able to begin his throwing program until he arrived in camp. Keppinger was behind schedule because he needed the entire offseason to rehab a broken fibula he sustained in November. The White Sox have taken it slow with the free-agent signee thus far, rotating him between DH and the field.

“I don’t have an issue with my shoulder where it’s going to be a problem all season long,” Keppinger said. “There’s a little irritation and inflammation in there from just picking up the use really fast where in the offseason I didn’t much time to build it up. I’m pretty sure it’s taken care of and we’ll move forward from here. You just have to work through things. Certain things are going to hurt and ache. And the more you push through them, your body adjusts.”

Ventura hopes Keppinger will be available at third base on Tuesday but intends to play him at second if he isn’t.

“It makes sense to get him on the field and moving around,” Ventura said.

While Keppinger’s right shoulder is rounding into shape, his bat got off to a quick start. Entering Sunday, when Keppinger went 0-for-3 with a walk, he was 10-for-21 with a pair of doubles.  With more than a week off, Keppinger knows he’ll have to work to regain his timing, though he suspects he has plenty of time.

“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” Keppinger said. “You’re going to have your ups and downs and slumps. Sometimes you’re doing good. And sometimes you’re not. I was feeling good, seeing the ball well, the game was starting to slow down a little bit and hopefully I can come right back in here now and pick up where I left off.”

Catcher Tyler Flowers was out of Sunday’s lineup with a stiff back. Ventura sounds as if he’s leaning towards giving Flowers until Wednesday to rest. Coupled with an injury to Jesse Crain and John Danks’ rehab from surgery, some of the White Sox early focus has been on the trainer’s table.

[MORE: Danks confident he's part of the White Sox picture]

“Every day it’s something else with somebody but the idea is to have them healthy when we’re in Chicago,” Ventura said. “So we’re again trying to be cautious to get them to that point where they’re healthy and start the season and that they’re ready too.”

Crain (adductor strain) feels he’s closer to ready after he threw 18 pitches in a B game on Sunday morning. Crain, who has been limited to one Cactus League appearance, admitted he had concern he’d be sore after a B game appearance on Friday and was relieved when he felt good. Crain was also hit by a line drive in Friday’s outing but he proceeded to complete his appearance and was more worried about how his hip would feel.

“Coming off the outing the other day, I was a little nervous of how I was going to feel (Sunday),” Crain said. “I thought it might be a little sore. I wasn’t sure how it would react. But it’s a sign it’s healing and it’s very close by the way I felt (Sunday).”

The reliever said the progress has him on the right track with a few weeks left before the season begins.

“The other day, I’d probably give myself maybe 80-85 percent I felt out there,” Crain said. “Today I probably was up to 90. A few pitches I was a little tentative, mentally, to get over the ball. So I was leaving some pitches up and I felt behind on the count, but as for healthwise, it definitely was a step forward. I think I’m very close.”

Notes

-- Jose Quintana threw 79 pitches in a B game on Sunday morning and Hector Santiago threw 42. The White Sox pitched the two in the simulated game instead of having them face Kansas City.

-- Jake Peavy is scheduled to face Los Angeles Dodgers minor-leaguers on Monday morning as the big-league club is off. Peavy said he hopes to throw 90 pitches and wants to work out of the stretch and on his slide step.

[RELATED: Peavy stays intense in minor-league game]

-- Jordan Danks went 2-for-2 with a walk to raise his average to .333. Danks had two of the White Sox five hits in a 10-0 loss to Kansas City, which improved to 17-4-1 this spring.

[MORE: Jordan Danks fighting for a roster spot]

-- Zach Stewart allowed seven earned runs and eight hits with three walks in 2 2/3 innings for the White Sox.