CLEVELAND -- Infielder Jeff Keppinger is set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Thursday.
Keppinger -- who signed a three-year, $12-million deal last December -- carried a .253/.283/.317 slash line with four homers and 40 RBIs in 117 games this season.
Because he rehabbed from a broken leg over the offseason, Keppinger didn’t have a chance to participate in a normal throwing program. As a result his shoulder was always a step behind the rest of his body, enough so that the White Sox opted to have Keppinger mostly appear as a designated hitter early so he could continue to get his legs and body up to speed while resting his arm.
“It was off and on,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It wasn’t continuous where he couldn’t use it. It kept bothering him over the course of the year. Hitting-wise he was fine, but any time you put him out there in the field for an extended period of time it would start to creep up on him. Clean it up, and make sure he’s ready to go in spring training.”
The veteran was signed last December to fill the void at third base left by Kevin Youkilis though the White Sox expected him to play the lead role in a platoon while he also moved around the rest of the infield.
Keppinger’s legs didn’t hinder his play this season as he proved early in camp he would be prepared for the regular season. In 52 plate appearances this spring Keppinger hit .444/.519/.556 with a homer and three RBIs.
But much like the rest of the offense, Keppinger struggled early in the season. In his first 37 games, Keppinger carried a .177 average with six RBIs.
He improved the rest of the way as from May 15 on, a span of 86 games, Keppinger hit .287 with four homers and 34 RBIs.
“Nothing’s pinned on him,” Ventura said. “It started off slow just like we did, and it just never bounced back. Lately he’s been swinging a lot better. His at-bats, minus the first part of the year, he had a pretty good year as far as doing what you would think, putting it in play and tough at-bats and even in the last week he had some. That’s kind of more of what you would expect of him. ... Like everybody else, you just want to forget about it and get ready for next year.”