SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barring a huge turnaround, Jeff Keppinger is headed for the disabled list.
Since he arrived in camp last month the White Sox infielder has been restricted by tightness in his surgically repaired shoulder. The veteran’s only at-bats have come when he has been the designated hitter, a position the White Sox have an abundance of players for.
So unless his health improves quickly, Keppinger is a DL candidate, manager Robin Ventura said after Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
“It’s tougher to do that if he can’t throw,” Ventura said. “We have a lot of guys basically that can do that same thing. You know, it’s somewhat short (time) to be able to do that as of right now unless he makes a miraculous comeback.”
Ventura already has a balancing act on his hand as he tries to find playing time for Jose Abreu, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza. The plan calls for several of those players to see time as the team’s DH once the season begins March 31. In exhibition play, Ventura has routinely given each of his core offensive players two days off in a row to find time for Keppinger at DH in order to have him up to speed for the regular season.
As of early next week, however, Ventura plans to play his regular lineup far more often and Keppinger mostly fits into that plan as a third baseman. He can get Keppinger at-bats in minor-league games and B games. But that window closes in a little over 2 1/2 weeks.
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So far Keppinger’s shoulder hasn’t made the gains he wants to see. He hasn’t appeared in the field in a game and rarely throws to first when taking grounders in warmups. Keppinger told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday his arm strength is good but he consistently has experienced tightness and pain.
“It’s probably going to push him back somewhat in trying to find him at-bats,” Ventura said. “It’s going to be tougher to do as we go along, with Konerko an Dunn, trying to find at-bats. How we do that, he just needs to get healthier to be able to throw.”