It's as if there's no K in Keppinger

It's as if there's no K in Keppinger

It's as if there's no K in Keppinger
ANAHEIM -- Jeff Keppinger has struck out just 11 times in 198 plate appearances, which earns him the distinction as being the toughest to strike out in the American League this season.

The Rays' infielder was the toughest to strike out in the National League in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Since April 25, his .377 batting average leads the Major Leagues (minimum of 100 at bats).

"I just put the ball in play," Keppinger said. "Try not to do too much. Sometimes they're going to fall. Sometimes they're not.

"... If you hit the ball you've got a chance to get a hit, a chance to get on base. There are certain pitchers, they don't give up home runs. So there's no point in swinging for the fence against them. Better to just catch them early in the count, just touch it, and see what happens. That's always been my approach."

Being an experienced Major Leaguer helps Keppinger's cause as well.

"Coming with experience, you see pitchers over and over again and you see what they're trying to do, their approach," Keppinger said. "Maybe sometimes you can pick one early in the count and drive a ball. That's my approach."

Keppinger has played in 57 games this season, a lot for a player who was projected to be a role player, considering he spent from May 21 to June 22 on the disabled list with a broken big toe on his right foot. When asked about all the playing time, Keppinger smiled.

"I didn't sign up for this much," Keppinger said.

Then, addressing the question seriously, he said he thought he would come in and play against left-handers.

"Because my career numbers are good against lefties," Keppinger said. "Seems like every team I've been on, something always happens to infielders. So you get those opportunities to play.

"And, obviously, with this team we've had a lot of injuries. You don't expect it to be that long and drawn out. But it is what it is. And that's why I came over here. If something happens these guys can count on me to go in there and hopefully the production doesn't fall off too much."

Keppinger entered Saturday night's game hitting .330 with four home runs and 20 RBIs, which are solid numbers, aided, no doubt by his increased playing time.

"It's definitely better to play every day and see pitches on a daily basis than playing once or twice a week, coming off the bench," Keppinger said. "That's not an easy job to do. Definitely playing and seeing pitches on a daily basis gets your timing down better."