ATLANTA — It looked like Jeff Keppinger’s baseball luck had finally changed when he was traded from the Astros, the worst team in the National League, to the defending World Series champion Giants in July.
For the first time as a major leaguer, the former Parkview and Georgia standout was on a contending team and he had a regular job as the San Francisco second baseman.
By the time Keppinger made it to Turner Field with his new team, though, the Giants had fallen out of first place in the National League East and Monday night’s walk-off loss to the Braves could have been costly in more ways than one.
Keppinger injured his right wrist in a collision at first base with the Braves’ Freddie Freeman on an infield hit and spent Tuesday in the training room as he awaited an MRI.
At least the news wasn’t as bad as feared. The MRI result was negative and Keppinger is listed as day-to-day with a sprain.
“Kep’s done a good job,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ll miss him as long as he’s not in there.”
The Giants, who had to put outfielder Carlos Beltran and reliever Sergio Romo on the disabled list before Tuesday night’s game, have been wracked by injuries this season. Injuries have been a curse for Keppinger his whole career.
Keppinger, 31, missed the first two months this season with Houston after winter foot surgery. In 2008, he fractured his patella when he fouled a ball off his leg while with the Reds.
The year before, he’d suffered a broken finger in spring training.
Despite that run of bad luck, Keppinger came into this season with a career .281 average and the reputation as nearly impossible to strike out. In fact, Juan Pierre of the White Sox is the only major leaguer who fans less frequently.
With Freddy Sanchez sidelined by a shoulder injury that would eventually require season-ending surgery, the Giants jumped at the chance to acquire someone like Keppinger, who was hitting .307 in 43 games for the Astros at the time of the deal.
“I get to go to a team that’s in contention,” Keppinger said then. “This will be the first time I’ve ever actually been on a team that’s been in first place or even with a winning record. It’s definitely exciting and that’s what you want when you play this game.”
Keppinger, who lives in the Dacula area with his wife, Morgan, and two children, was 2-for-4 in the series opener against the Braves, giving him a .286 average in 24 games with the Giants and an overall mark of .299.
“He’s done a great job. He was a nice pickup,” Bochy said.
“He’s fit right in with us in the No. 2 hole (in the lineup.) He’s done a good job defensively and offensively.”
Unfortunately, he fit in too well. On the Giants, no one seems to be able to avoid the injury hex this season.
The good vibes from last year do remain, though. Keppinger got to visit the White House with the Giants although he wasn’t part of the World Series a year ago.
The Giants went through a 1-8 skid recently, but that was nothing compared to what Keppinger went through with the Astros earlier this season. That gave him plenty of perspective.
“On the teams I was on, you definitely saw a lot of guys feeling sorry for themselves more than on contending teams,” Keppinger said. “This team has got swagger. They’re the defending world champs.
“Nobody has been panicking at all no matter what’s happened. There’s a certainty that they’re going to get it done.”
All the Giants’ injuries haven’t made it easy, though.