Gutierrez: Weeks should stay when Ellis arrives

June 20, 2011, 12:46 am
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JUNE 19, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comSame old (stuff)Just a different dayI keep tryin' to get itEach and every wayMomma need a houseBaby need some shoesTimes are getting' hardGuess what I'ma do?HustleHustleHustleHard-Ace Hood, on "Hustle Hard," A's rookie Jemile Weeks' walk-up song.

OAKLAND - You've seen the future of the A's, and his name is Jemile Weeks.The rookie bats lead-off. He steals bases. He plays highlight-reel defense at second base. He's, ahem, humble.Wait, what?Yes, Weeks has brought what his teammates call a certain "swagger" into the A's clubhouse, an "electricity" onto the field since being called up from triple-A Sacramento on June 7 to make his major league debut. But he knows his role and pays his respects.Even with the potential awkward situation that awaits the A's in New York on Wednesday, when Mark Ellis will be activated from the disabled list to join the team at CitiField against the Mets.It does not have to be awkward, though. Not if the A's do the smart thing and keep Weeks as the A's starting second baseman until he inevitably cools off. Ellis, ever the consummate professional, could play the role of mentor and, some suggest, become attractive trade bait to a team - the Giants? Detroit? - in need of a second baseman, or simply reclaim his gig as the best second baseman in the game to have never won a Gold Glove.Then again, Weeks could make like Buster Posey did last season for the Giants and spark his team on an epic run. Only difference is, though, Posey was involved in every pitch as a catcher.Plus, as noted earlier, Weeks insists there will be no awkward moments when Ellis returns."Me being a young guy, whatever position they put me at, that's where I'll play," Weeks said. "He's a veteran; that's his position. I'm willing to do whatever they want me to."We haven't gotten any insight on the situation."As Ellis himself told me on Friday, "That stuff will work itself out. You never have enough good players."REWIND: A's Ellis goes 0-for-3 in Triple-A start
While Ellis, who was scuffling with a .211 batting average with the A's when he went on the D.L. with a strained right hamstring, was struggling through an 0-for-6 with a walk in his first two rehab games with the River Cats, Weeks was finishing off his first three-hit game for the A's in Sunday's 2-1 defeat of the Giants.In his 12 games as a big leaguer, Weeks is batting .364 with four doubles, three-triples, seven runs scored and two stolen bases, while robbing opposing batters of hits with his "effort play" defense.Weeks, the A's first-round draft choice in the 2008 draft, No. 12 overall, played an integral part in Oakland's three-game sweep of the defending World Series champs at the O.co Coliseum. After hitting in the No. 9 hole in the series opener, Weeks batted lead-off on Saturday and Sunday."He plays the game well," offered Giants starter Matt Cain. "He plays it hard. He does a great job on defense. He made a couple of diving plays against us. He really did a great job of not getting too overwhelmed when he was making plays."He's got a good approach at the plate. He's patient. He's going to take advantage of guys that leave balls over the middle of the plate. You still have to figure him out."Good luck with that. Because until that happens - yes, I'm about to type it again - Weeks should be the A's regular second baseman. And he should continue to take the ribbing and hazing that have come his way.Consider: after just six home games, Weeks already has a walk-up song - Ace Hood's "Hustle Hard." And after going 0-for-4 on Saturday, the A's vets told him he had to be in the bigs at least three years before picking theme music.And that was before they playfully named a section of the training room after him and kidded him for wearing a sleeve on his sliding leg.Sunday afternoon, he could only find one sock while getting dressed. More hijinks from his teammates? Maybe. Maybe not. But in any event, he's already made his mark, and he already has the big league pedigree, what with his brother Rickie a standout for Milwaukee.Which, again, is exactly why the A's need to ride Weeks and not even entertain the idea of sending him back to Sacramento. The corresponding roster move should be to ship struggling Daric Barton to the River Cats to find his stroke or, if Josh Willingham's bothersome right Achilles' tendon is still not right, put him on the D.L. to make room for Ellis.A's Insider gallery: How sweep it is
Just let Weeks be. The same way he's left his dreads alone. His last haircut was two years ago, when he was battling injury issues to his left hip that limited him to 176 games over his first three professional seasons.A's interim manager Bob Melvin was asked in a long soliloquy following the A's 2-1 victory Sunday if he and the front office have had any discussions yet on what to do with the Weeks-Ellis situation.Melvin's simple response: "Nope."Melvin smiled. Just as Weeks surely did when he got the call to pack his bags for Baltimore to join the A's just over two weeks ago.Surely, nerves had to be dealt with, right? If not, the generously-listed 5-feet-9, 161-pound (soaking wet and with rocks in his pockets, maybe) Weeks has to be somewhat surprised by his early success and impact for a team riding a season-best five-game winning streak, no?"Not surprised, excited," Weeks said. "I was a little nervous to be on this stage. I need to feel like I'm a part of this team."Check that. Weeks is not only the future of the A's; he's also the present.