Not known for power, Keppinger cleans up

Not known for power, Keppinger cleans up

ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Joe Maddon gave Jeff Keppinger "something to add to the resume" on Opening Day -- a start at designated hitter, batting cleanup, at Tropicana Field.

Keppinger said he can't remember having ever been a cleanup hitter, even dating back to high school, but he was excited about the opportunity.

"[Maddon's] got his reasonings," Keppinger said. "I don't know -- maybe my numbers against [Yankees ace CC] Sabathia are good. I couldn't tell you. I'm just a contact guy in the middle of all the run producers. I'm sure he's got his reasons."

Keppinger had indeed hit well in his career against Sabathia (6-for-14), but Maddon's reasons were even simpler: Keppinger entered the game having posted a career .324/.371/.481 batting line against left-handed pitchers. Maddon also wanted to give Luke Scott a chance to rest his rehabbing right shoulder, but the manager noted that Scott will not be platooned and will play against lefties under most circumstances.

An infielder who's played virtually his entire career in the National League, Keppinger didn't expect too much trouble in adjusting to the DH role and said he wouldn't alter his approach.

"I think coming out of the National League, it's kind of like pinch-hitting four times in a game every time you come up," Keppinger said. "It's definitely easier to get your mind out of the game, because you're not on defense, and maybe overthink your at-bats too much or a pitch you swung at."