Rickie Weeks hopes to make most of D-backs opportunity
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For Rickie Weeks, the decision to sign a minor-league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks was an easy one.
"It was pretty much my only shot, to tell you the truth," Weeks said Tuesday, his second day in camp with the D-backs at Salt River Fields. "It was one of those things where you want to come back and play the game, and there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities out there."
Weeks is a 12-year major-league veteran and a major contributor to some successful Milwaukee teams for the better part of a decade, but big-league baseball is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately occupation, and Weeks’ lately has been, well, weak.
He lost his hold on the Brewers’ starting second base job while hitting .209 in 2013, then was allowed to leave as a free agent after a productive 2014 season as a right-handed hitting platoon bat.
He signed with Seattle but lasted only 37 games, hitting .167 in 84 at-bats before being released in June.
Still, he’s only 33, and the D-backs figure he’s worth taking a look at as a bench bat and outfield depth.
"Right now we’re looking at him strictly in the outfield," manager Chip Hale said. "There’s not a whole lot of innings in the infield for us, so we’re going to let him play the outfield, and if we’re getting closer to the season and we’re looking at a 25th guy to play everywhere, he can do it.”
Weeks, a 2011 National League All-Star and Home Run Derby participant at Chase Field, insists he has plenty left in the tank, but he understands the burden of proof is on him.
"When they called, I was ecstatic," Weeks said. "They kind of remind me of a team that’s up and coming and ready to make that jump.
"The only thing you control is what you can do on the baseball field, and that’s what I came to do. Given a chance, I can produce, let’s put it that way. The biggest thing for me is to show what I can do, and the rest will take care of itself."
While last season was pretty much a wasted year for Weeks, in 2014 he terrorized left-handed pitchers, compiling a .504 slugging percentage and hitting seven home runs among 18 extra-base hits in 133 at-bats against southpaws.
The Diamondbacks’ starting outfield appears set with David Peralta in right, A.J. Pollock in center and Yasmany Tomas in left. Minor-league prospects Socrates Brito and Peter O’Brien are reserve options, but the D-backs might prefer to have them get regular playing time in the minors, which could open a spot for a veteran like Jason Bourgeois or Weeks.
"We always talk about bat speed and wrist strength, and he’s had that since the time he was born," Hale said of Weeks. "His bat speed is incredible, it still is out there. Let’s let him get his feet underneath him and watch him play in some games and see where he’s at. He’s been a big leaguer for a long time; if he can help us on our 25 man roster, great."
Non-roster outfielder Zach Borenstein and catcher Oscar Hernandez each hit two-run homers in the D-backs’ 12-5 exhibition win over the University of Arizona on Tuesday. … The D-backs had 15 hits, including two each by Chris Owings and Borenstein. … Matt Koch started and pitched two scoreless innings. Dominic Leone gave up two runs in one inning and Matt Stites was roughed up for three runs in one-third of an inning.
Hale said Pollock is progressing in his recovery from a sore arm and could be ready for game action by Friday.
Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin will exchange gifts with D-backs pitcher Tyler Clippard and Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez prior to Wednesday’s Cactus League game at Salt River Fields. The players will present Hamlin with jerseys, and Hamlin will give the players autographed racing helmets.
Rubby De La Rosa and Archie Bradley are among the pitchers scheduled for Wednesday’s game vs. the Rockies. Colorado will start Jon Gray. Zack Greinke is scheduled to pitch for the first time on Friday against Oakland.