White Sox part with Jeff Keppinger before dropping A’s 4-2
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter May 14, 2014 10:41PM
Updated: June 17, 2014 2:04PM
OAKLAND, Calif. — Well, that didn’t work out.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has executed choice free-agent signings (Jose Abreu) and trades (for Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton, Conor Gillaspie), but he has had his share of duds, too.
Signing Felipe Paulino into the starting rotation for $1.75 million last offseason isn’t looking so good, but not as bad as inking infielder Jeff Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million contract the offseason before that. Keppinger, 34, was designated for assignment Wednesday, leaving the Sox to eat a sizable contract — something chairman Jerry Reinsdorf hates to do.
While it came earlier than expected, the parting with Keppinger wasn’t a surprising move. He was brought in as a serviceable piece to fill a void at third base. While he struggled and battled ankle and shoulder injuries — and as the Sox as a team went into the tank last season — infield prospects such as Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson took steps forward. And Gillaspie, acquired in a good trade for pitcher Jeff Soptic last February, has been good enough to occasionally bat third in the Sox lineup.
Johnson, a second baseman who stole 84 bases in the minors last season and was leading the Southern League in hitting, was promoted Monday from Class AA to Class AAA Charlotte. So there is positive, youthful movement where Keppinger would be in the way.
‘‘This was about focusing on the future as opposed to trying to justify a decision from the past,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘That one’s on me, but I give Jerry 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 batted .253 with four homers and 40 RBI over 117 games last season. After he was DFA’d, he tweeted, ‘‘So long Chi town. Wished I could’ve showed you I’m better than I played last season!!!’’
Win some, lose some. One signing victory such as Abreu, whom Hahn landed for six years at $68 million, would erase a long list of free-agent defeats. Abreu hit his 15th homer Wednesday in a 4-2 win against the Oakland Athletics, a three-run missile to left in the eighth against Luke Gregerson to erase a 2-1 deficit.
‘‘You get in situations like that, you’re glad he’s up there,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘That’s what he means to us.’’
Gordon Beckham hit the first pitch of the game against A’s starter Tommy Milone for his third homer. A’s leadoff man John Jaso answered with a homer of his own against Andre Rienzo, who gave up Josh Donaldson’s homer in the fourth but no other hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Matt Lindstrom escaped his own jam in the ninth and got his sixth save. Scott Downs recorded his seventh scoreless relief appearance, and Ronald Belisario (2-3) got four outs in relief.
Beckham went 3-for-4, including the second leadoff homer of his career. His second three-hit game of the season hiked his average to .266. Gillaspie also had three hits.
Abreu had one hit.
‘‘The only thing I can tell you is God has allowed me to put a good swing on the ball,’’ he said afterward. “When I go in there, I’m looking to put a good swing on a good pitch, and that’s what I was able to do.’’
The Sox (20-22) halted a four-game losing streak.