By Matt Snyder
The Rays are close to an agreement with free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported Wednesday night by the Tampa Bay Times, which reported that we should expect the signing by the end of the week.
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Keppinger, 31, split last season between the Astros and the Giants. He only appeared defensively at second base, which was a departure from his utility infielder role in the previous five seasons. He hit .277/.300/.377 with 20 doubles. He is a career .281 hitter with a .332 OBP.
Keppinger won't be counted on as an everyday starter with the Rays. They already have Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez to play up the middle. Reid Brignac can backup shortstop, so Keppinger looks likely to be the backup at second base. That also means he's an available fill-in if Ben Zobrist plays in the outfield, where he started 33 games in 2011. But, again, this won't be happening regularly as the Rays have Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce in the outfield.
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