9/24/2013 8:28 P.M. ET
Keppinger to have shoulder surgery Thursday
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Infielder Jeff Keppinger will have exploratory surgery on Thursday on his right shoulder, which has bothered him "off and on" throughout the season, manager Robin Ventura said Tuesday.
"It wasn't continuous where he couldn't use it," Ventura said of Keppinger, who hit .316 in August and .306 in September. "Hitting-wise he was fine. But any time you put him out there in the field for an extended period of time, it would start to creep up on him.
"Clean it up, and make sure he's ready to go in Spring Training. It's more, at the end of the year, trying to get everything set up for next year. So if something's in there, he'll get it fixed now rather than later, in a couple of weeks. Apparently, I overused him in the last weekend."
Keppinger, 33, was the White Sox's primary offseason addition, brought in on a three-year, $12-million deal as a free agent. He earned $3.5 million in 2013, with his yearly salary going up to $4 million in 2014 and $4.5 million in 2015.
The original plan for Keppinger was to take advantage of his exceptional bat-handling ability as the team's No. 2 hitter and use his versatility throughout the infield. He came into the season with significant time played at second base, shortstop, third and first base.
But after a stellar Spring Training effort, Keppinger hit just .199 through May 20 and didn't draw his first walk of the season until May 16 against the Angels. But in a season full of disappointment, Ventura certainly won't pin the year's shortcomings on one player.
"Nothing's pinned on him. It started off slow, just like we did, and it just never bounced back," Ventura said. "Lately, he's been swinging a lot better. His at-bats, minus the first part of the year, he had a pretty good year as far as doing what you would think, putting it in play and tough at-bats, and even in the last week he had some.
"That's kind of more of what you would expect of him, and there was more of that toward the end of the year than it was in the beginning. Like everybody else, you just want to forget about it and get ready for next year."
As for next year, the man who produced his lowest single-season average of a solid nine-year career at .255 is viewed more as a super utility player in 2014, as he was coming into this season.
"He can play pretty much all over the infield and fill in," Ventura said. "He's versatile enough where you can kind of pencil him in different spots. I don't know what we're going to look like in Spring Training, but it's nice knowing he's versatile enough that you can move him around in different spots and have that as an option."
Sale supports Scherzer for Cy Young Award
CLEVELAND -- Chris Sale does not have a vote for the American League Cy Young Award.
But if he did, the White Sox ace knows exactly where he would cast his support.
"Scherzer, without a doubt," Sale said prior to Tuesday's game against the Indians, referring to the Tigers' Max Scherzer. "I know a lot of people raise questions just because of the lineup he has behind him. But at the same time, you still have to go out there and pitch well.
"You look at all his other numbers, strikeouts, walks, innings pitched. All that stuff. He's probably got the best numbers of anybody."
Sale went on to mention Scherzer's consistency, with just five starts of less than six innings and seven where he allowed more than three runs.
"Shoot, I've had three where I gave up eight [runs] this year," Sale said with a laugh. "He's never had that really bad game. He's just been consistent the whole year."
Many pundits have pointed to Sale as a Cy Young contender, with his numbers being as strong as any AL starter when taking away his 11-13 record. In the world of Sabermetrics, pitchers' wins have been devalued.
That line of thinking is understood by Sale, with a starting pitcher only able to control so much on the mound. Yet, he respectfully disagrees.
"You don't play for ERAs, strikeouts and batting averages. You play for wins," Sale said. "And I know that the new [stats] might say that this guy might do this, but at the end of the day, the team with the most wins, wins, you know? The team that wins the last game of the year is the best in the world.
"Wins are necessary. It's not the biggest thing, but you still have to win games."
As for a pitcher who loses a 1-0 game, as an example, Sale presents a very basic explanation.
"You got outpitched," Sale said. "There's a lot that goes into it, but I think at the end of the day, you have a guy that wins 20 games in a season, that's tough.
"I don't care who you are pitching against, who you have on your team. You still won 20 games and there's something to be said for that. All of [Scherzer's] numbers match that, so I think he's the guy."
Ventura considers changes in spring approach
CLEVELAND -- A year when the White Sox proved far too often that they had Major League Baseball's worst defense started in Spring Training, with extra emphasis in that particular area.
"I don't know if that correlates to anything," Ventura said. "But we did more defensive work this year than we did the previous year."
Ventura is "kicking around" doing things differently for his third Spring Training, especially after this season. But some of the changes will depend on who the White Sox have in camp come February in Glendale, Arizona.
The plethora of defensive miscues this season eventually became as much mental as they were physical, in Ventura's estimation.
"There has to be some mental to it," Ventura said. "Again having had years that weren't as good as others, I'm going to make sure everybody puts that behind them when they come back. It's a clean slate and you don't want to bring this year back with you. It's not as easy to do as just saying that. That's what you have to do."
Third to first
• Andre Rienzo said the blister on his pitching hand is healing, and he's ready to start Thursday's opener of the season's final series against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
• Left-handed reliever David Purcey has been shut down for the remainder of the season with a strain in his left ulnar collateral ligament. Surgery is not required at this time, and he is expected to heal with rest after posting a 2.13 ERA over 24 games.
"He's done a pretty good job this year to where you give him an honest look at doing something," Ventura said of Purcey and his White Sox future.
• The White Sox's 45 losses against the AL Central are the most in team history.