Weeks works to reclaim starting job with A’s
By RICK EYMER
PHOENIX — Jemile Weeks refuses to point fingers or make excuses. The face responsible for his sub-par sophomore season is the one he sees in the mirror every morning.
The second baseman is now trying to regain his starting role with the Oakland Athletics. There are plenty of candidates in the infield.
Scott Sizemore returns after tearing his left knee last spring and missing the year. Jed Lowrie was obtained in a trade with the Houston Astros, and the A’s signed Japanese veteran Hiroyuki Nakajimi.
There also are veteran backups Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard.
Weeks, who led off for the A’s in Saturday’s spring opener at the Milwaukee Brewers, embraces the competition.
“It’s my job to show them I’m no different than I have been in the past,” Weeks said. “There is a sense of having to prove it to people if they doubt.”
He was Oakland’s first-round pick in 2008, reached the majors ahead of schedule and hit .303 in 97 games as a rookie in 2011.
There was no reason to think he would backpedal. But last Aug. 21, when he was hitting .220 with two homers and 20 RBIs, he was sent to Triple-A Sacramento.
That prompted A’s GM Billy Beane to make some moves during the offseason that has produced some stiff competition this spring.
“You put guys into situations to see what they can do,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You take into consideration a guy who has a track record but guys know they’re in competition.”
For Weeks, it’s a matter of returning to what made him successful in the first place: working hard every day year around.
His older brother, Milwaukee Brewers infielder Rickie Weeks, is also convinced Jemile will return to prominence.
“He’s an All-Star second baseman,” the elder Weeks said. “I know that for a fact.”
After his sensational rookie season, in which he led all major league rookies in batting average and triples, he got off his routine, perhaps resting on his laurels just enough to offset the things he accomplished the previous season.
“Everybody goes through streaks like this,” Weeks said. “I came into last season feeling good and then I got out of my routine.”
He wasn’t going to blame the sophomore jinx, how pitchers adjusted to him or anybody affiliated with the Athletics. He took full responsibility.
“Sure pitchers threw me differently but I have to go back to getting out of my routine,” Weeks said. “Those were the same pitchers I faced as when I broke in. It was my results which were different. You realize this game is not easy and you have to keep working hard to be good. There’s really no other substitute for that.”
The A’s really don’t know what to expect out of Sizemore and Lowrie, who has also been plagued by injuries during his big league career. Nakajimi is making the adjustment to American baseball.
“I have to applaud Billy for what he did this offseason,” Melvin said. “It’s a nice problem to have. What it allows us to do is withstand injuries, or give guys days off over the course of a season.”
Lowrie, who has yet to play a full season in the majors, is as healthy as he’s been and also looking forward to the season. He says playing shortstop “is why I am here. I feel good. I haven’t played since last year but I feel healthy.”
Lowrie, who turns 29 in April, played in a career-high 97 games with the Houston Astros. He missed two months because of thumb and ankle injuries.
“That’s why you put in the time to rehab,” Lowrie said. “You know there is baseball down the road.”
It’s also the reason Weeks has himself back on track and looking forward.