GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A trip to the disabled list to open the regular season is almost certain for Jeff Keppinger.
The White Sox infielder’s surgically repaired shoulder is still bothering him and he hasn’t thrown since Tuesday. Keppinger, who had shoulder surgery in September, said the plan calls for more throwing on Saturday but he hasn’t seen the improvement he believed would come after the 2013 procedure. With only 10 days left before the season opener, Keppinger is convinced he’ll stay at Camelback Ranch for extended spring training when his teammates leave next week.
“It’s very frustrating,” Keppinger said. “I thought I had a procedure to fix that at the end of last year, just dealing with it all. I was really hoping to come in this year and be pain free and be able to play. Now here I am looking at basically staying here while the team leaves. I didn’t really play in many games, DH’d when I did. It’s tough.”
Perhaps the reason it’s toughest, aside from the sharp pain whenever Keppinger tries to put anything on a throw, is because of the uncertainty. Keppinger felt fine when threw at only 50 percent on Tuesday but described pain as “terrible” the following day.
Keppinger believed he’d be healed by December and ready to go by the time the team opened camp on Feb. 20. But not once over the course of the offseason has Keppinger been able to play catch at longer than 90 feet.
The White Sox determined early in camp they wanted to restrict Keppinger and take the process slowly. They would use him as the designated hitter to get him at-bats but didn’t want him to throw.
But Keppinger hasn’t seen any improvement in the area. He said team doctors told him an additional MRI revealed no structural damage, which only adds to his frustration.
“I get pinching in the back when my arm goes back hard and I’m trying to put more on the ball,” Keppinger said. “I can’t come forward because it hurts so bad. If I just sit there and throw soft I don’t feel anything. But as soon as I try to put five or 10 percent more on it, it bites sharp like a stabbing pain. (The DL) seems like a no-brainer to me. Yeah. … I’ve got to get it to where its pain free first and then I can start trying to back it up from there. But the strength is there and the flexibility is there, I have to get rid of the pain somehow.”