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Keppinger dropped in batting order

CHICAGO – The White Sox signed infielder Jeff Keppinger during the offseason with the hope his plate discipline would create plenty of opportunities for him to reach base.

It hasn’t worked out that way thus far. Keppinger has yet to draw a walk in 28 games (121 plate appearances) while hitting below .200.

Manager Robin Ventura finally dropped Keppinger to the bottom half of the Sox’s lineup in order to try and get him going offensively. Keppinger hit seventh for the first time this season, though he was originally slated to bat eighth but was bumped up a spot when Conor Gillaspie was scratched from the lineup because of an upper respiratory issue caused by allergies.   

Before Saturday’s game against the Angels, Keppinger hit in the No. 2 spot in all but one of his starts. Keppinger, who went 1 for 4 in the Sox's 3-2 loss to the Angels, loaded the bases in the Sox’s two-run second with a single, the third of the inning.

“You know what the track record is and you are trying to get it out of him,” Ventura said. “He fits in a lot of different spots in the lineup with the way he can handle the bat. So, hopefully there will be some guys on and he can knock in some runs.”

Beckham progressing: Second baseman Gordon Beckham believes he is only a few weeks away from returning to the Sox’s lineup.

Beckham, who had surgery April 16 to fix his fractured left hamate bone, hit off a tee Saturday for the second consecutive day with plans to hit soft toss beginning Monday and participate in batting practice by the end of the week. Beckham said he was concerned his wrist and hand would be sore when he woke up Saturday, but everything felt good. Beckham projected his first rehab assignment would come May 20, possibly sooner.

“I'm out there running, doing stuff baseball related and taking ground balls – the only thing that I haven't gotten is game situation,” Beckham said. “It's been a pretty long layoff, but at the same time, I've been at pretty much every game so I've been watching the game. It's just a matter of my body reacting to a game.”

However Beckham, who was hitting .316 in seven games before his injury, isn’t convinced his return as well as starting pitcher John Danks’ will be enough to fix the Sox’s problems. Danks (left shoulder) is on track to rejoin the Sox’s rotation within the next couple weeks.

“I think we're going to help, but it's deeper than just one player, two players,” Beckham said. “We've got to play better baseball. At the end of the day, I think everybody knows that.”

Quick hits: Reliever Jesse Crain extended his scoreless game streak to 13 games (12 1/3 innings) with two innings of one-hit ball and three strikeouts in relief Saturday against the Angels. … Danks makes another rehab start today with Triple-A Charlotte against Pawtucket. He has been on the disabled list since March 22. In two rehab starts, Danks has allowed four runs on nine hits in 12 innings pitched.

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