Shoulder surgery ended Jeff Keppinger’s 2013 season in July and now it looks like it will also cause the White Sox infielder to begin this season on the disabled list.
Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports that Keppinger “has been restricted by tightness in his surgically repaired shoulder” throughout spring training and will spend Opening Day on the DL “barring a huge turnaround.”
He’s yet to play defense in a game and can’t even make throws to first base when fielding ground balls in practice because it causes pain.
Keppinger signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the White Sox last offseason following a career-year at age 32, but hit just .253 with four homers and a .600 OPS in 117 games before being shut down. Even if he gets healthy he’s likely slated for a part-time role in Chicago.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.