No news is bad news for Jeff Keppinger.
Tightness in his shoulder has prevented him from playing third base all spring. The first report in February sounded like a harbinger, and sure enough, nobody around the Sox can really cushion it with any kind of optimism anymore. The White Sox will have to wait to place Keppinger on the disabled list, but even he said that outcome seemed like a "no-brainer" when talking about his problems on Friday.
"Sharp pain," Keppinger said. "The doctor that did my surgery is here now, so we're seeing if he knows why it's happening. I'm doing all the right things, but it's just a matter of time of body and mind, I guess. I don't know.
"I get pinching in the back when my arm goes back hard and I'm trying to put more on the ball. I can't come forward because it hurts so bad. If I just sit there and throw soft, I don't feel anything. But as soon as I try to put five or 10 percent more on it, it bites sharp like a stabbing pain.
"Even in my rehab in the offseason, I have never made it past 90 feet throwing," Keppinger said. "I've got to get it to where its pain-free first and then I can start trying to back it up from there. But the strength is there and the flexibility is there. I have to get rid of the pain somehow."
That pretty much cements Conor Gillaspie as the everyday third baseman. Matt Davidson is still in camp, but based on Rick Hahn's comments from the broadcast booth during Friday's game, the time for the third baseman of the future remains yet to come.
It's going to be a different type of lineup that we're working towards. You're going to see pieces of that already, like you did last year with Avi Garcia. Now Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu are going to be in that lineup, and not too far behind them at some point, you're going to see Matt Davidson as well.
Gordon Beckham wants to settle the other unsettled infield position by Opening Day, although he has no way of knowing yet.
"I don't think that's in question. I think I will be fine, I would say," Beckham said. "I know I haven't swung yet, but I can tell my body feels a lot better.
"I'm still doing rehab today, and then tomorrow I'm still getting moving around a little bit. But there's not much to report. I haven't tested it out. I haven't swung at all."
Given the finicky nature of oblique injuries, this quote doesn't really mean much one way or another. The good news is that Beckham will be able to start finding out today, as his seven days of rest comes to an end. Marcus Semien's April living arrangements hang in the balance.
The good news for Beckham? Matt Lindstrom made his Cactus League debut after missing the first few weeks with his own strained oblique, and the early returns are positive. He threw a scoreless inning, showing good sink on his fastball, sliders of varying quality, and even a couple cutters.
Better yet, he sounds ready to get after it on an every-other-day schedule.
"No ill effects. I can deal with soreness, and a little bit of weakness or whatever, but for the most part, the fastball command was good."
"I didn't feel really anything, and I'm excited to make my next appearance on Sunday," Lindstrom said. "I threw some good off-speed pitches, and I threw a couple of [lousy] ones. I just need to keep getting better at that."
The Cubs didn't get to Lindstrom, but they did sully Maikel Cleto's ERA by driving in a leadoff walk. Still, the combination of a healthy Lindstrom and a Cleto with a concept of the strike zone basically locks in the seven-man bullpen, although the leverage ladder remains unclear.
Tyler Flowers gave everybody a scare when he left Friday's game in the middle of his at-bat in the sixth inning.
Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone first thought he twisted his foot or ankle, but changed their minds when they saw Flowers bend at the waist and wince, saying the word "oblique" at the same time.
But their first hunch was closer to the truth. The Sox said that Flowers left the game due to leg cramps, and Robin Ventura said the decision to remove Flowers from the game was merely precautionary. Ventura exercised "safety first" earlier in the game by removing Jose Abreu after a single to ice his ankle.
It's easy to see why Ventura would want to be careful. In the time between Flowers' exit and the word from the White Sox, everybody had time to mull over the idea of a Josh Phegley/Adrian Nieto/Hector Gimenez Catching Explosion.