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Weeks comes through with another big homer

Solo shot against Rangers proves to be winning run in close contest

ARLINGTON -- Rickie Weeks hasn't put up big numbers for the Mariners and has played just spot duty through the first three weeks of the season, but the two-time National League All-Star has had a major impact in two of Seattle's early victories.

Weeks hit his second home run of the season Tuesday and it stood up as the winning run in a 2-1 victory over the Rangers. His first homer was a three-run, pinch-hit blast that put Seattle in position for an extra-inning victory in Oakland on the first road trip of the season.

So while Weeks has struggled a bit to find his new utility role niche and is hitting just .210 after Tuesday's 2-for-3 day, his presence has been felt and that's precisely what manager Lloyd McClendon expected when Seattle signed the 32-year-old to a $2 million deal shortly before Spring Training and started working him into the left field mix.

"This guy is a professional," McClendon said. "He has a lot of heart and soul and I think those guys in that locker room really look up to him and respect him and they'll follow hm. He's that type of a guy. I told him probably the second or third game into the season that I was extremely happy to have him and I felt blessed that he was part of this club. And I meant it wholeheartedly. I think this guy is going to do good things for us."

That was exactly what Weeks needed to hear, but he said it's on him to make things work in his new situation.

"Obviously coming in, there's a whole bunch of things going through me, just trying to find the right role, per se," said Weeks, who never played any position except second base in his 11 years with the Brewers. "Not starting every day, coming in to learn new guys, learn American League pitching, just trying to learn a whole lot.

"So for me to hear that feels good, but at the same time, I'm on a mission. And this team is on a mission, too. We just want to win ballgames and keep putting pressure on teams."

Weeks aches to play a significant part in that, but knows he needs to be ready to contribute whenever called upon. He didn't start for a week-long stretch when Seattle faced a run of right-handed starters until McClendon put him in against a righty in Monday's series opener in order to give him some at-bats before facing lefties the final two games of the Texas series.

Weeks has gone 3-for-6 the last two games and said it certainly helps to get more consistent at-bats and playing time, but he understands the situation.

"I'm a no-excuse guy," he said. "You've got to go out there and play. The biggest thing is just be ready. That's all I can say about that."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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