Rays sign Jeff Keppinger to one-year contract

ST. PETERSBURG, FL-The Tampa Bay Rays have signed infielder Jeff Keppinger to a one-year major league contract.

Keppinger, 31, split the 2011 season between the Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants, batting .277 (105-for-379) overall.  He hit .307 (50-for-163) in 43 games with the Astros before being traded to the Giants on July 19 and batting .255 (55-for-216) in 56 games to end the year.  He played in 92 games in the field, all at second base.

"Jeff is a good player who fits our club well," said Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman.  "He is a tough out, especially against left-handers, and his contact skills bring a useful dimension to our roster. We also value his defensive versatility, which will allow him to make an impact in many different ways."

The right-handed hitter has a career .281 batting average, .332 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage over seven seasons with the New York Mets (2004), Kansas City Royals (2006), Cincinnati Reds (2007-08), Astros (2009-11) and Giants (2011).  Against left-handed pitchers, he owns a career .324 batting average, .371 on-base percentage and .481 slugging percentage.  He has struck out only 142 times in 2,287 career plate appearances, averaging the second most plate appearances per strikeout (16.1) among active players (min. 2,000 PA) behind Juan Pierre.

In his major league career, he has appeared in 280 games at second base, 178 at shortstop and 102 at third base.  The Miami, Fla., native was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2001 June Draft.