Keppinger nearing start of rehab assignment

Keppinger nearing start of rehab assignment

HOUSTON -- Jeff Keppinger appears to be close to taking a big step forward in his rehabilitation from offseason foot surgery.

Astros manager Brad Mills said Monday the versatile infielder could begin a Minor League rehab assignment as early as Thursday. Keppinger, who underwent surgery in January to remove a bone from his foot, has been alternating between designated hitter and the infield for the last few weeks at extended spring training.

"We're going to see how he is today and tomorrow and go from there," Mills said. "If there's no soreness and he feels OK, he could start as early as maybe Thursday."

Keppinger, who can play shortstop and second base, was one of the Astros' most reliable players last year, hitting .288 with a team-best 34 doubles and six homers and 59 RBIs in 137 games. His return will give Mills an intriguing decision to make regarding which infielders stay on the roster.