Walking boot can't dampen Keppinger's spirit

Walking boot can't dampen Keppinger's spirit

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- This past offseason was a disappointing one for Jeff Keppinger, who lost the Astros' starting second-base job when the club traded for Clint Barmes and signed Bill Hall. He then underwent left foot surgery and is expected to miss the first six weeks of the season.

Keppinger underwent surgery Jan. 14 to remove a sesamoid bone in the foot, correcting an injury that hobbled him late last season. He hopes to get his walking boot off next week, but that hasn't stopped the infielder from reporting early to camp.

"The last thing you want to do is miss time, but I didn't want to always have to battle with it," Keppinger said of surgery. "I didn't want to be worried about it next year, so the next best thing to do was get it taken care of. That way, I don't have to deal with it and I can get on with my career."

Keppinger hit .288 last year and led the Astros with 34 doubles after taking the starting job away from Kaz Matsui early in the season. The Astros shopped Keppinger this offseason, trying to unload his salary, but his foot injury was a stumbling block.

"I'm not doing much," Keppinger said. "I'm just basically doing range-of-motion [exercises] and getting my foot moving, trying to build up my strength."