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updated: 3/12/2014 9:26 PM

White Sox' Keppinger likely headed to disabled list

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  • White Sox third baseman Jeff Keppinger has experienced right shoulder pain this spring and may be placed on the disabled list.

      White Sox third baseman Jeff Keppinger has experienced right shoulder pain this spring and may be placed on the disabled list.
    Associated Press

 
 

Early Wednesday, the White Sox got closer to the season-opening 25-man roster limit by sending eight players to the minor leagues.

Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson were the most notable names, and both outfielders were optioned to Class AA Birmingham. Left-handed pitcher Charlie Leesman, who had a 1.69 ERA in 4 Cactus League relief appearances, was sent to AAA Charlotte.

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All in all, there were no surprises as the Sox pared their major-league roster to 47, but later Wednesday manager Robin Ventura told reporters that infielder Jeff Keppinger is likely going to be on the disabled list when the regular season opens March 31 with a game against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.

Keppinger was a major disappointment last season after joining the White Sox on a three-year, $12 million contract. He batted a career-low .253 with 4 home runs and 40 RBI before having shoulder surgery on Sept. 26.

This spring, Keppinger has played in six exhibition games and is batting .125 (2-for-16) with 3 RBI. The sluggish numbers are not the big problem.

Keppinger told the Tribune his shoulder feels "tight," and he has been limited to designated-hitter duties in Cactus League play.

"Even when I started in the off-season it's been hurting and I just thought it was something I needed to work through," Keppinger said. "I just kept going through it and going through it and it never got better. It's very frustrating. I thought I had the surgery last year to get it fixed, and here I am dealing with the same thing. I don't know."

The Sox already have Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko platooning at DH, so that's why Keppinger is probably headed for the disabled list.

"It's tougher to (keep Keppinger) if he can't throw," Ventura said. "We have a lot of guys basically that can do that same thing. You know, it's somewhat short (time) to be able to do that as of right now unless he makes a miraculous comeback."

Keppinger still has two years and $8 million on his contract, but he is easily replaceable.

With Opening Day approaching, newcomer Matt Davidson and Conor Gillaspie are in a battle for the starting job at third base.

Davidson, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a December trade for closer Addison Reed, is expected to eventually emerge as the starter.

In nine exhibition games, Davidson is batting .158 (3-for-19) with 1 home run and 1 RBI, so he might open the season at Charlotte. Gillaspie has also played nine games and is batting .250 (6-for-24) with 1 homer and 3 RBI.

If Keppinger is unable to go, the White Sox could open the season with both Davidson, a right-handed hitter, and Gillaspie, a left-hander.

Other infield candidates include Marcus Semien, Leury Garcia and Carlos Sanchez, who leads all Sox hitters with a .583 batting average this spring.

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