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.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉