Weeks energized by keystone competition
PHOENIX -- Jemile Weeks has had good spring showings before, so he wasn't about to get overexcited by a successful Cactus League debut performance against the Brewers on Saturday.
Still, Weeks had to be pleased with his day's work on both sides of the game, having notched a leadoff double in the first inning before making a fantastic diving play to start a double play in the second. These are scenes that will surely stay with Bob Melvin, who has the task of pinpointing an everyday second baseman by camp's end.
Weeks held that role at this time last year, but continuous struggles throughout the regular season prompted a demotion to Triple-A Sacramento in August. Since, Scott Sizemore has entered the mix at second base, and the club also has Jed Lowrie and Adam Rosales, among others, who can play the position.
The element of competition, missing from Weeks' spring last year following a remarkable rookie campaign in 2011, is back.
"There's definitely motivation," Weeks said. "I'm in a position where the word is you have to win your job, so I'm going about this like I need to win my job. It's a little different than knowing you have a job. It's a matter of trying to get ready now instead of getting ready for later."
Melvin will continue to watch Weeks closely.
"He got off to a great start last year and hit a couple of homers, and then just couldn't continue to ride that," he said. "He would never tell you he was banged up, but there were times when he was banged up. It starts with confidence, really, for him, and health, and then you go out there and let your ability to take over.
"He just has to get back to doing what he was doing the year before and going back to playing a solid defense as well. Sometimes when you're not hitting it's tough to focus on the total game, and everything can kind of go in a direction you don't want it to. He has the talent."
Weeks and Sizemore are likely to see the bulk of time at second base this spring. Sizemore will get the start there Sunday, after serving as designated hitter in Saturday's game. In that role he collected a single to find his way on base for the first time since 2011, after missing all of 2012 while rehabbing from a torn ACL.
Melvin would normally like to have his second baseman identified at least two weeks out before the start of the regular season, to allow time for him to find a comfort zone with the shortstop. But "whether or not that happens, I'm not sure," he said.
"Certainly you'd like to get to Spring Training, have your shortstop and second baseman and pair them together, and have them go through all the drills," Melvin continued. "But for now everyone will have to learn everyone. That's just the position we're in."