GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Joe McEwing sustained a season-ending broken left fibula on a collision at second base in late August of the 2004 season, it was Jeff Keppinger who replaced McEwing on the Mets' roster.
So the energetic White Sox third-base coach is very familiar with the new White Sox third baseman.
"I know what type of player he is. He's a grinder," said McEwing of Keppinger, who made his Major League debut as part of the Mets. "He's done an outstanding job throughout his career fielding at second, short and third. He's done a great job so far this spring."
Keppinger has been billed as the ultimate contact hitter, a player who admits that he would cry when he struck out as a Little Leaguer. He also has great defensive versatility, having played 307 career games at second, 178 at shortstop, 152 at third, 35 at first and five in the outfield.
McEwing strongly believes that Keppinger can play everywhere across the infield, including shortstop. He also feels that Keppinger can make the move from super sub to the team's everyday third baseman.
"The more reps you get over the years, the more comfortable you become, and he's moved around throughout his career," said McEwing of Keppinger, who has never played more than 67 games at third in a single season, but played 50 for the Rays there in 2012. "You could tell he's comfortable in any situation."
Conor Gillaspie appears to be a reserve option at third, a left-handed-hitting complementary player to Keppinger, as general manager Rick Hahn described him at the time of the trade with the Giants. But McEwing also has worked at helping Gillaspie improve his defensive play.
Terming it as just a minor tweak in his footwork, McEwing has tried to square up Gillaspie and get him in better position to throw across the diamond to first base.
"He was fielding the ball off of his left side, and open," said McEwing of Gillaspie. "It took a lot for him to get his feet back underneath him and square up to his target.
"We just tried to square him up a little bit defensively so he's going to his target and his momentum is going to his target. He wants to learn. He's very receptive to everything. He's worked his butt off and every day in ground balls, he's very conscious of it. He's going a great job."
Konerko an option to join Team USA
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko has never played in the World Baseball Classic, but that may change.
First baseman Mark Teixeira is out of the competition because of a strained right wrist that he sustained taking swings in the batting cage at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. White Sox manager Robin Ventura acknowledged that Team USA manager Joe Torre mentioned Konerko as one of the replacement possibilities in conversation during the course of the two teams playing their scheduled exhibition game.
Ventura has no concerns about Konerko playing in the World Baseball Classic, with Team USA beginning competition Friday night at Chase Field. It's more about getting ready for the season in the context of leaving White Sox camp and joining the international action.
"If he's ready to go and play, it's his decision," Ventura said. "Again, he's been around long enough to know if it's going to help him or hurt him to be ready for the season.
"It's going to be up to him whether he feels he's even ready right now. I don't think the mindset was there that he was going to play in it. We'll see."
Konerko went 3-for-3 in Tuesday's 4-4 tie on his 37th birthday, and certainly is deserving of this selection as still one of the more underrated standouts in the game. If Team USA advanced, they would play in Miami and potentially San Francisco for the championship round.
Danks 'sore in all the right places'
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Call it a sense of relief. Call it peace of mind. Or simply call it the now expected news.
John Danks reported no unusual pain or soreness Tuesday morning after throwing two-plus innings against the Giants on Monday and playing catch the next day. It was Danks' first game action since Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.
"I feel good," said Danks, sitting in front of his locker. "I'm sore obviously, but sore in all the right places. I feel like I'm sore like Jake [Peavy], Chris [Sale] or Gavin [Floyd] is, not recovering surgery guy.
"So, it's good. I've already talked to [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] this morning and was able to do all my shoulder weight lifting and everything. Things are looking up."
Danks will throw Saturday against the D-backs at Talking Stick and figures to work in more offspeed pitches along with increasing his pitch count. He understands that Monday's outing was just two innings and that he's not where he needs to be.
But the southpaw remains firmly on track to break camp with the team.
"I'm part of the team now. It almost does feel that way for no other reason than you just get in your own head," Danks said. "You're by yourself a lot and in a sling.
"You do a lot of thinking and a lot of times you're hurting yourself more than you're helping yourself with those thoughts. I'm definitely glad to be back. I'm not 100 percent back, but no one is 100 percent quite yet. I'm where I need to be at this point."
First outing a good test for Floyd
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Gavin Floyd threw almost an even split of fastballs and offspeed pitches in Tuesday's 4-4 tie against Team USA, with the right-hander approaching the contest like a normal outing. He was happy with the offspeed movement but thought he was a little fast on the fastball.
"A little quick maybe because of the adrenaline. Just some things to fine tune," said Floyd, who allowed two hits and fanned three over 2 2/3 innings, throwing 27 of his 50 pitches for strikes. "You try to get a little extra giddy-up on it and try to overthrow it a little.
"After four months without competition, it's all new again. That's why we're here, to get back in the swing of things again and get used to it. It comes back pretty easy. I'm glad the first one is under my belt and I can focus on the next one. Sometimes you overdo it. It takes the whole Spring Training sometimes to figure it out."
Floyd was sidelined last year by right elbow tendinitis and then a right elbow flexor strain, but those injuries no longer are playing on his mind.
"I don't feel it out there at all, especially how many offspeed I threw today. It felt good. Non-issue, I guess," Floyd said. "I'm not really concerned because in Florida [during the offseason], I was throwing off mounds three or four times and it felt good then."
Third to first
• Prior to Tuesday's game against Team USA at Camelback Ranch, the White Sox optioned left-handed pitcher Charlie Leesman to Triple-A Charlotte and reassigned catcher Michael Blanke, right-handed pitcher Jacob Petricka, infielder Tyler Saladino, catcher Kevan Smith and infielder Andy Wilkins to Minor League camp.
These moves leave the White Sox with 55 players remaining in Major League camp: 28 pitchers, four catchers, 13 infielders and 10 outfielders.
Of the six moves, only Leesman was ranked among the White Sox Top 20 Prospects by MLB.com at No. 14. Leesman has not thrown in a Cactus League game after undergoing offseason surgery on his left knee, which he injured during the International League playoffs. Leesman finished 12-10 with a 2.47 ERA over 26 starts for Charlotte last season, striking out 103 and walking 52 over 135 innings.
• Matt Thornton made his Cactus League debut with one scoreless inning in Tuesday's 4-4 tie with Team USA. Thornton was bothered early on in camp by triceps soreness but never went off schedule.
• Chris Sale figures to throw three or four innings and between 50 to 70 pitches when he works against Minor Leaguers in camp Wednesday because of the White Sox off-day.
• Infielders Drew Garcia, Dan Black and Daniel Wagner, outfielder Brandon Short and right-handed pitchers Matt Zaleski, Taylor Thompson and Kevin Vance served as extras for Team USA on Tuesday. Black, Wagner, Short, Garcia and Zaleski all got into the game.