Keppinger likely to miss the first six weeks of the season

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Astros infielder Jeff Keppinger didn’t have the best offseason. First the ‘Stros traded for Bill Hall and named him their starting second baseman, pushing the 30-year-old Keppinger into a backup role. Then the guy found out in January that he needed surgery to remove a sesamoid bone from his left foot.

Keppinger is not going to be ready for the start of the season. In fact, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com is saying that Keppinger will miss the first six weeks.

He was in a walking boot Thursday in camp and said he’s only “hoping” to get out of it by next week.

Once Keppinger returns to full health, he will be used in a utility infield role, getting limited looks behind Hall at second base and Clint Barmes at short. He batted .288/.351/.393 with six home runs, 59 RBI and 62 runs scored across 137 games last year.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.