With the Oakland A's flooded with options for second base at the big league level, Jemile Weeks thought it was time he diversified.
Early this week, the 2008 first-round pick and natural second baseman asked River Cats manager Steve Scarsone if he could play shortstop, a position he hadn’t played since his high school days.
His wish was granted and he’s made two starts at the position, with the first coming in Wednesday’s loss to Tacoma. As a second baseman, Weeks struggled some but improved over time defensively with the A’s. He is aiming to shed the notion he doesn’t have the arm to play shortstop.
“I make every play. Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel, you need more names? They did it,” Weeks said.
Weeks had only seen one start in the field in Sacramento’s first six games, getting the start at designated hitter five times. A's 2009 first-round pick Grant Green has seen the bulk of the playing time at second base, but he is still new to the position and needs all the reps he can get, while Weeks’ glove is more of a known commodity.
Green was originally a shortstop, but has been moved all over the field for the past year and a half. With Weeks now playing short and Green playing second, the two former first-round picks have officially switched positions, for the time being.
“It’s not like we’re introducing something new to [Weeks],” Scarsone said. “We’re pushing him over to a spot where he’s comfortable. Obviously time will tell as we go into how he’s able to adapt to situations and how quickly he goes from trying to get it done to getting it done with the reaction times I’m sure he’s got.”
After moving Green around the field constantly since July of 2011, the A’s want to give him a long look to see if he can develop into a major league-quality infielder. Both players need at-bats and Weeks felt that he could play shortstop, especially with Andy Parrino moving up to the major leagues, leaving a hole at the position for the River Cats.
“I think it’s good to master one position, but when you have the versatility of others it broadens your horizons for the organization to be able to use you,” Weeks said.
Weeks has been one of the River Cats’ best hitters on the young season, hitting .353 with an 833 OPS through eight games.
For now, it would appear that the position change makes divvying up at-bats easier for Scarsone, who will have more flexibility with the DH to give some at-bats to players such as Conner Crumbliss (who DH'd and homered on Thursday in Sacramento's 5-4 win) and Luke Montz.
But the time at shortstop could be valuable for Weeks and help him develop his game defensively.
“I think just the overall versatility of using your feet, the movements, just different actions help out at anywhere in the infield," Weeks said. "Shortstop gets you in rhythm for any position."