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updated: 5/14/2014 9:42 PM

Sox designate Keppinger for assignment

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  • This is a 2014 photo of Jeff Keppinger of the Chicago White Sox baseball team. This image reflects the 2014 active roster as of Feb. 22, 2014 when this image was taken in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

      This is a 2014 photo of Jeff Keppinger of the Chicago White Sox baseball team. This image reflects the 2014 active roster as of Feb. 22, 2014 when this image was taken in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

 
 

Signing Jeff Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million contract prior to the 2013 season was a mistake.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn realizes that, and he also realized it would have been an even bigger mistake moving a healthy Keppinger on to the 25-man roster this season.

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After playing 11 games with Class AA Birmingham to rehab his sore right shoulder, Keppinger was cleared to return to the Sox.

Instead, the 34-year-old infielder was designated for assignment Wednesday, meaning he's free to sign with another team and the White Sox will absorb the $8.5 million Keppinger is owed through the 2015 season.

"This was about focusing on the future as opposed to trying to justify a decision from the past," Hahn told reporters. "It's unfortunate. That one's on me, but I give (chairman Jerry Reinsdorf) credit for allowing us not to make future decisions based strictly on economics. This was a decision obviously not made based on economics. It was made based upon wanting to give our younger guys an opportunity to play."

Keppinger cashed in with the Sox after batting a career-high .325 with Tampa Bay in 2012. He slipped to .253 with the Sox last year and had shoulder surgery on Sept. 26. The shoulder was still bothering Keppinger during spring training and he opened the season on the disabled list.

With Gordon Beckham, Conor Gillaspie, Marcus Semien and Leury Garcia on the roster, there wasn't an open spot for Keppinger.

"We had a brief conversation this morning, he understood the rationale for it and we wished each other well," Hahn said. "Basically, this comes down to wanting to use the plate appearances at the big-league level for some of the younger players that we have here right now. Conor certainly has stepped up and seized the primary role of third base. Obviously we want Gordon to play, as well as Marcus and Leury Garcia, and we have some young players in (Class AAA) Charlotte who are knocking on the door and may contribute at some point this year."

Johnson moving to outfield?

As suggested here Tuesday, it might be a good idea to move Micah Johnson from second base to the outfield, specifically left.

The White Sox are set at second base with Gordon Beckham, who has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and is starting to flash some power.

Johnson was promoted from Class AA Birmingham to AAA Charlotte Tuesday after leading the Southern League with a .329 batting average. Last season, the Indiana product led the minor leagues with 84 stolen bases while batting .312 with A Kannapolis, A Winston-Salem and Birmingham.

Hahn told reporters it is "conceivable" Johnson could switch positions but "it's not in our plans."

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