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Keppinger, Francoeur only locals to make MLB rosters

The start of the regular season in the major leagues is still a few days away, but it has already been a rough time for players from Gwinnett County.

A record seven local high school products were in the majors last year. Just two, though, will be part of an active roster this opening day.

They are both former Parkview stars. Jeff Keppinger is the Chicago White Sox new third baseman and Jeff Francoeur is back to play right field for Kansas City.

Braves catcher Brian McCann will start the season on the disabled list, as will relief pitcher Blake Wood with Cleveland.

Duluth graduate McCann, rehabbing from shoulder surgery, should be ready to rejoin the Braves by the end of April. North Gwinnett's Wood, coming off Tommy John elbow surgery last year while with Kansas City, has a longer road back.

Infielder Nick Green, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and pitcher Collin McHugh all failed to make major league rosters this spring and will start the season in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.

Green (Duluth) was sent to New Orleans by Miami, while Blackmon (North Gwinnett) was optioned to Colorado Springs by Colorado and McHugh (Providence Christian) was shipped to Las Vegas by the New York Mets.

Green can opt out of his minor league contract and can become a free agent if he chooses.

Keppinger, who turns 33 on April 21, hit .325 in 115 games with Tampa Bay as a utility player and parlayed that into full-time job at third base with the White Sox after signing a three-year deal worth $12 million as a free agent.

Keppinger, a .288 career hitter over eight seasons, certainly didn't disappoint his new team at the plate this spring. The former Georgia Bulldogs standout had 20 hits in his first 42 Cactus League at-bats despite missing time with a sore right shoulder.

Francoeur, 29, slumped to .235 last season and is entering the final season of a two-year deal worth $13.5 million he signed to remain in Kansas City after hitting .285 with 47 doubles, 20 homers, 87 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 2011.

The former Atlanta first-round draft choice fell to 49 RBIs last season and had just four stolen bases to go with 28 doubles and 16 homers.

Entering his ninth major league season, Francoeur will make his first trip back to Turner Field in April since being traded by the New York Mets to Texas during a 2010 series in Atlanta.

The Royals have a two-game interleague series against the Braves on April 16-17.