As long as Jeff Keppinger continues to make contact, the White Sox and their newly acquired infielder won't be pouting. Keppinger was signed to a three-year, $12 million contract as the Sox try to cut down on their franchise-record 1,203 strikeouts in 2012. Making contact has been a source of pride for Keppinger since his youth, who hasn't struck out more than 36 times in eight major league seasons. "When I was a little kid, I used to cry when I struck out," said Keppinger, who batted .325 with the Rays last season. "I hated walking back to the dugout knowing I couldn't run to first base. I felt like everyone was looking at me and upset with me that I didn't hit the ball. So it's something that has carried with me throughout my life and career." Keppinger said he benefited last season from the freedom to hit instead of being targeted to advance runners or sacrifice bunt. Manager Robin Ventura said he projects Keppinger as a No. 2 hitter but will experiment in spring training. Keppinger said he hasn't felt any limitations since recovering from a broken bone in his right leg suffered in November. Moving Morel: Brent Morel played shortstop at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Ventura hasn't ruled out evaluating Morel at other infield positions now that he appears recovered from a back injury. "I know he can play third base," Ventura said. "That's not the issue. It's giving him a little more versatility, maybe stick him at second base. It's always good to have (options)." Extra innings: Dylan Axelrod is scheduled to start the exhibition opener Feb. 23 against the Dodgers. ... Andre Rienzo is listed as a reliever for Feb. 23 and is scheduled to pitch two innings Feb. 26 before leaving to train with Team Brazil for the World Baseball Classic. ... Right fielder Alex Rios arrived early in part to get early work before he departs to train with Team Puerto Rico for the WBC.
Making contact a source of pride for Keppinger
Chicago Tribune | Feb 15