Tampa Bay Rays sign utilityman Jeff Keppinger
By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Jan 27, 2012 06:20 PM
ST. PETERSBURG — Jeff Keppinger not only knows what he's getting into with the Rays, he likes the sound of it.
Having spent most of his career in the middle infield, Keppinger signed Friday — getting a one-year deal for $1.525 million plus incentives — to be the next product of the Tampa Bay superutilityman factory. Russ Canzler was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
"I'm up for anything," Keppinger said. "I like that prospect rather than a team just limited me to be a backup at one position, so that kind of attracted me the most."
Though he has made only eight appearances at first base and five in the outfield, and though the Giants let him go because they believed he wasn't good enough at shortstop, Keppinger, 31, said he can handle whatever the Rays have for him.
"I know there's a lot of talk that people tell me I'm limited at playing certain positions, but I don't feel that way. I just go out and do the best I can," he said.
"They can put me wherever they want, it doesn't matter. … I don't really have any specific position that I really would pick over the other."
The Rays like his versatility, executive vice president Andrew Friedman saying in a statement Keppinger will "make an impact in many different ways."
But even more so for his bat, specifically against left-handed pitchers, with a career .321 average and .850 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Also, Keppinger is a high-contact hitter, striking out only 142 times in 2,287 career plate appearances. (By comparison, B.J. Upton last year struck out 161 times in 640 plate appearances.)
"He is a tough out, especially against left-handers, and his contact skills bring a useful dimension to our roster," Friedman said.
Rest of article here (non Keppinger related) from Tampa Bay dot com