HOUSTON — Astros second baseman Jeff Keppinger helped to increase his trade value with a stellar performance over the weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates by hitting .462 (6-for-13) with two homers, four RBI, two doubles and four runs scored.
General manager Ed Wade continues to answer phone calls on a daily basis regarding the availability of Keppinger, as well as Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez, with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline quickly approaching.
Keppinger, 31, told joltleft.com that he understands the nature of the business, especially after being traded four times in his career.
His skill level, versatility and service time as a cost-effective, arbitration-eligible player under club control through 2012 makes him an ideal addition to a variety of playoff-caliber teams.
However, the veteran second baseman enjoys playing for the Astros and manager Brad Mills, and would prefer to stay in Houston.
“It’s just part of the game,” Keppinger said. “A lot of guys get traded. I’ve been traded four times already. Now, it’s kind of to the point where you hope you can get to a team and stay with them.
“I like playing in Houston a lot. My family likes it here. I would like to stay here, but it is what it is. If you get traded, you can’t control that.”
Keppinger has thrived with the Astros since being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds toward the end of Spring Training in 2009.
Houston targeted Keppinger as a means of establishing a platoon situation with veteran infielder Geoff Blum at third base in order to get his bat in the lineup against left-handed pitching.
After his first season with the Astros, Keppinger caught the attention of Mills and ultimately took over the starting job at second base when the organization released Kaz Matsui in May 2010.
Keppinger hit .288 with six homers, 59 RBI and a team-high 34 doubles over 514 at-bats in 137 games for the Astros last season.
He’s fully recovered from offseason foot surgery and didn’t take long to regain his starting job in late May from Bill Hall, who was released in early June to clear a roster spot for the Astros to activate outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the 15-day disabled list.
Keppinger’s strong performance over the weekend improved his batting average to .314 over 159 at-bats in 42 games this season.
Although Keppinger remains the subject of trade rumors, he’s determined over the second half of the season to excel on the field and do everything within his power to help the Astros win more consistently.
“If you take care of yourself and perform, it will help to take care of the team aspect of the game,” Keppinger said. “We just want to win some games. It’s not fun coming to the field and losing most of the time. We are out here to win and to compete.
“Hopefully, we can put together some wins.”
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