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Jeff Keppinger says shoulder will be fine

Jeff Keppinger

Jeff Keppinger

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SURPRISE, Ariz. — Jeff Keppinger returned as the designated hitter after a three-day absence because of a personal matter.

Keppinger, who suffered a broken ankle in a fall at home during the offseason, figures to be the White Sox’ starting third baseman. But he had to be the DH again because of “irritation” in his right shoulder, a result of not going through his offseason throwing routine.

When he does get on the field, it might be at second base with shorter throws to make, but he assured reporters the soreness won’t linger.

“I don’t have an issue with my shoulder where it’s going to be a problem all season long,’’ Keppinger said Sunday. “There’s a little irritation and inflammation in there from just picking up the use really fast, where in the offseason I didn’t have much time to build it up. I’m pretty sure it’s taken care of and we’ll move forward from here.’’

Crain encouraged

Although he allowed a home run and a walk in his one inning in a minor-league game, right-hander Jesse Crain was in good spirits after making his second appearance in three days. His right groin felt good, and he was confident he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Crain called it “a huge jump.’’

“It’s definitely a step forward health-wise,’’ Crain said. “The other day I’d probably give myself maybe 80-85 percent. Today I probably was up to 90.’’

Flowers sits

After being penciled in Saturday night to catch Sunday, Tyler Flowers was not in the lineup for the game against the Royals in Surprise.

Flowers, who hasn’t caught in a game since Thursday because of a stiff lower back, was surprised to hear he was even posted on the lineup card. After the Sox’ day off Monday, Flowers expects to catch Tuesday.

“It feels good,’’ he said. “It’s progressing nicely. Going to do some stuff, keep everything in shape and I’ll be good to go.’’

Pitch counts

Left-hander Jose Quintana threw 79 pitches in the same minor-league game Crain worked in, and lefty Hector Santiago threw 42. Jake Peavy will pitch in a minor-league game Monday while most of the Sox are off.

“I’m hoping to get 90 pitches out of it,’’ Peavy said. “I want to get up and down five, six times and work on things. I want to work out of the stretch, with my slide step. The biggest thing is throw your pitches, assess where you’re at, what you need to work on between starts — cutter, changeup whatever it may be. You do that in the game but the biggest thing is getting your arm in shape.’’

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