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Reds' Keppinger to miss 4-6 weeks

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

By JOE KAY

AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI -- Shortstop Jeff Keppinger will be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks with a broken left kneecap, leaving the Cincinnati Reds without their best clutch hitter and their most consistent hitter so far.

Keppinger fouled a pitch off his knee during a 5-3 win over Florida on Tuesday night. He stayed in the game for two innings, but took himself out when the pain and swelling in the knee started limiting his range.

He went for a medical test on Wednesday to judge the severity of the fracture, and doctors gave the estimate for his return.

The Reds called up Paul Janish from Triple-A Louisville to take his roster spot. The 25-year-old shortstop has never played in the majors.

Manager Dusty Baker plans to use Jerry Hairston Jr. at shortstop for now, working Janish in slowly. Hairston is batting .316.

"He (Janish) is a true shortstop, but Jerry's doing a great job offensively and we've been having trouble offensively," Baker said. "You've got to have some offense to replace a key offensive guy."

Keppinger opened the season at shortstop because Alex Gonzalez is recovering from a compression fracture in his left knee. Gonzalez suffered the injury early during spring training and isn't close to returning.

While Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Brandon Phillips slumped, Keppinger has been the Reds' most consistent hitter. He's batting a team-high .324 and is among the NL leaders in clutch hitting, batting .406 with runners in scoring position.

Keppinger had the knee wrapped and immobilized by a brace when he walked into the clubhouse on crutches Wednesday.

"There's nothing I really can do about it, just sit and wait and let it heal," he said. "I had a long talk with Griff last night when I was on the trainer's table. He calmed me down a lot. I was struggling with it last night, but he told me to relax and everything will take care of itself."

Janish, a fifth-round pick in the June 2004 draft, was promoted to Triple-A for the first time last season and batted .221 in 55 games. He changed his swing a little over the winter, and was batting .293 when he was called up.

"I'm a little more comfortable," Janish said. "I've had streaks when I did well in the past. Last year it just kind of snowballed on me."



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