Weeks shows he is still capable of helping carry an offense
MAY 23, 2014 12:22p ET
MILWAUKEE -- One of the tougher things to do in baseball is come off the bench and play every once in a while, especially when a player is used to seeing his name in the lineup every day.
Milwaukee's Opening Day starter at second base since 2006, Weeks is now regulated to pinch-hit duty and starting against left-handed pitchers. Sometimes that means starting two or three times a week or once every 10 days.
"I'm just staying ready and staying positive," Weeks said. "That's all you can do. Baseball, you can't just sit there and complain about anything. You have to just go out there and play."
Weeks started the season with just three hits in his first 25 at-bats, making just six starts in April. Surprisingly, the veteran second baseman began to get hot at the plate during a stretch when he barely saw any playing time at all.
The Brewers didn't face a left-handed pitcher from April 26 to May 10, a span of eight straight starts for Scooter Gennett at second base. During that stretch, Weeks went 4-for-6 off the bench, reaching base five consecutive plate appearances at one point.
Weeks then started six of Milwaukee's next eight games, raising is batting average as high as .365 and hitting his first two home runs of the season. Since starting 3-for-25, Weeks is hitting .447 (17-for-38).
"Rickie has been struggling all year, and he's gone in there and had some really big hits lately, some really good ABs," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He's looking like the Rickie of old. That's the guy we need. Whenever he's right, he hits. So he really has been looking good."
With Weeks in one of his hot streaks at the plate and Gennett performing admirably in his first full season in the big leagues, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has two players performing well at second base.
Weeks brushed off the question when he was asked if his goal was to force Roenicke to keep him in the lineup on a daily basis.
"I'm not forcing anything," Weeks said. "I'm just showing up. If my name is in the lineup I'll play ball. If I'm not in the lineup, you still have to work hard, still be a good teammate and come out and show the guys what you can do."
As he's shown over his career with the Brewers, Weeks is capable of helping carry an offense when he is locked in at the plate and healthy. Especially with its offense struggling, Milwaukee would like to capitalize on Weeks swinging the bat so well of late, but both he and Gennett only can play second base.
Weeks was approached by the team recently about trying out left field but he declined despite knowing such a move potentially could have put in the lineup more than his current situation.
"It makes it harder because Rickie is so hot now," Roenicke said of his platoon at second base. "In a schedule with a right-hander then two lefties, it's not so hard. When we get into a stretch where weâre seven or eight right-handers in a row, it becomes difficult because of the way Rickie is swinging. We need the offense, and the other day when he had him in there (against a right-handed pitcher) I felt like we needed to get him in there more."
At 31 years old, Weeks is making $11 million in the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Brewers. He's unlikely to reach the 600 plate appearances necessary to vest his contract for $11.5 million for 2015, meaning he would become a free agent following the year.
With Gennett in the fold, Weeks is probably in his final stretch with the only team he's ever played for. Injuries and his inconsistent ways at the plate has never allowed the former All-Star second baseman to ever truly realize the high expectations placed on him as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft, but maybe he just might be able to help the Brewers contend in his final go around with the team.
Or maybe he'll be an attractive trade piece to teams looking for a second baseman if he continues to hit like he has recently.
"Rickie is the definition of stoic," Lucroy said. "He is extremely, extremely strong. I've never heard him complain, never heard anything like that. He's just very, very solid and consistent in what he does."
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