Yankees interested in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger

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According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Yankees have renewed their “longstanding interest” in free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger. The Yankees have Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix on their roster, but they are currently seeking a veteran infielder who can play third base and fill in at shortstop with Derek Jeter coming off ankle surgery.

Keppinger isn’t a perfect fit for the role described by Rosenthal, as he hasn’t played shortstop since 2010 as a member of the Astros, but the Yankees have tried to acquire him on two previous occasions. The 32-year-old batted .325/.367/.439 with nine home runs, 40 RBI and an .806 OPS in 115 games with the Rays this past season while making starts at first base, second base and the hot corner.

At the very least, Keppinger would fill the void left by free agent Eric Chavez, who filled in at third base and first base at various points this year. Rosenthal has heard some scuttlebutt that the Yankees may be “laying the groundwork” to use Rodriguez as their primary designated hitter next season, but general manager Brian Cashman has refuted any such claims.

“There is no discussion whatsoever about Alex transitioning from third base to DH, part-time DH, first base or any other position on the field,” Cashman said.

“As we approach anyone in the free-agent market or anyone in trades, we’re making sure we have insurance policies, (asking) our what-ifs?”

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier this week that the Yankees could consider free agent Stephen Drew for a super-sub role while Rosenthal speculates that free agent Marco Scutaro and Tigers’ shortstop Jhonny Peralta could also fit the bill.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.