07/20/11 7:49 PM ET
Sandoval expected to return to lineup Friday
By Chris Haft and Adam Berry / MLB.com
Keppinger makes delayed Giants debut
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Keppinger had two thoughts upon being traded from the Astros to the Giants on Tuesday.
For starters, he said Wednesday, "I'm in first place. That's nice, definitely nice." And second, he was glad he wouldn't have to face the Giants pitching staff the rest of the season.
"It's tough to get hits off these guys. That was definitely a plus, too," he said. "I'd rather face the other team I came from than face this team."
Officially added to the Giants' 25-man roster Wednesday morning when catcher Hector Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A Fresno, Keppinger made his Giants debut in the club's 1-0 loss to the Dodgers. He pinch-hit in the seventh inning, flying out to left field in his only at-bat, and played second base.
The 31-year-old second baseman was supposed to arrive at AT&T Park on Wednesday morning, plenty early enough to be in the starting lineup. His trip was delayed, however, when the flight crew got in too late Tuesday night and had to postpone his departure until 11 a.m. CT.
Keppinger landed and made it to the park during the game, got dressed and ready in about five minutes, took a few swings in the batting cage and made his way onto the field, greeting by a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd.
Having never played on a winning team and coming from the 33-65 Astros, Keppinger was quick to note the different atmosphere around the Giants franchise.
"It was really nice. I don't think I've had one of those ever, so it was definitely nice to know they embrace me and welcome me here," Keppinger said while standing in front of his new locker, marked by a piece of tape with his "8 Keppinger" written on it. "I'd definitely like to come over here and contribute. You don't want to come over to a first-place team and not contribute."
He got one more surprise Wednesday afternoon. A reporter asked about the Giants' trip to the White House on Monday, prompting a confused look from Keppinger, who was then informed he would get to meet President Barack Obama in his first week with his new team.
"Yeah, sure. I'm looking forward to it," he said, drawing laughter from the small crowd of reporters. "I've never been, so that'll be good."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.