Gutierrez: Weeks should stay when Ellis arrives

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Gutierrez: Weeks should stay when Ellis arrives

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.

Evans: Cain's strong final spring start 'does give him an edge' over Blach

Evans: Cain's strong final spring start 'does give him an edge' over Blach

Matt Cain entered spring training competing with Ty Blach for the fifth starter spot.

On Thursday morning, Giants GM Bobby Evans provided an update on the position battle.

"Blach put up a good spring for himself, and it does make the decision harder," Evans said on KNBR 680. "We'll process it today with the coaching staff and Boch and I, and we'll make a final call."

Back in early February, Evans said: "“In a perfect world, Matt Cain would be Matt Cain and he would take that spot."

Over seven games (six starts) this spring, Cain went 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA.

[PAVLOVIC: Cain makes case for Giants' rotation spot in final Cactus League start]

Blach went 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA over seven appearances (two starts).

Cain is making nearly $21 million this season in what is the final guaranteed year of the 6-year, $127.5 million deal he signed in April 2012.

"Again, with the track record that Matt Cain's had overall, it would seem easy," Evans said. "But yet, the last couple years have been so rough and we've had the injuries and the hard contact against him.

"But he did finish strong with the Cubbies (Cubs) and I think it does give him an edge as we close out this decision."

NHL Gameday: Critical Sharks road trip begins in Edmonton

NHL Gameday: Critical Sharks road trip begins in Edmonton

Programming note – Sharks-Oilers coverage starts today at 5:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 43-26-7, 93 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Oilers: 42-25-9, 93 points, 3rd Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks’ final road trip of the season begins with an important back-to-back in Edmonton and Calgary, as they fight to at least keep home ice advantage in the first round. They are tied in points with the Oilers, and have a three-point advantage, with a game in hand, on Calgary.

San Jose snapped a six-game regulation losing streak on Tuesday against the Rangers, 5-4 in overtime.

“I think we had a good game as a team,” Mikkel Boedker said. “I think we played really well, and we were extremely focused on our details of the game and what we had to do to be successful. That’s going to be the same tonight.”

***There’s a chance that the Sharks and Oilers, who meet once more next week, could be first round playoff opponents. DeBoer weighed in on that possibility, and how it affects tonight's game.

“Where we’re sitting in the standings, the potential of playing each other in the playoffs – all that stuff. It’s a critical game,” Pete DeBoer said. “The outcome isn’t going to end the season for either of us, and both of us will pick up and move on whether it’s a win or a loss and get ready for the next one, but there’s definitely a lot at stake and there’s definitely messaging that can be sent this time of the year.”

Edmonton has won three in a row, and seven of its last eight.

***Speaking of messaging, and DeBoer wouldn’t confirm it, but it appears that Micheal Haley will return to the lineup in place of Kevin Labanc. Haley served a one-game suspension on Tuesday for punching Calle Jarnkrok last Saturday.

Labanc played much of Tuesday’s game on the top line left wing. There were no line rushes on Thursday morning, though, so just who will take that place with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski will remain a mystery until warmups.

***The Sharks have won two of three from Edmonton in the season series, including one in overtime, but the Oilers claimed a 4-1 win in the most recent meeting in San Jose on Jan. 26. They meet for the fifth and final time on April 6. 

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. The free agent addition played his best game in weeks on Tuesday against the Rangers, snapping a 10-game scoreless drought. He recorded a pair of primary assists in San Jose’s win by generating some shots towards the net, which were cleaned up by Jannik Hansen and Chris Tierney. The last time Boedker was in Edmonton on Jan. 10, he registered a hat trick in a 5-3 Sharks victory.

Oilers: Cam Talbot. No goalie has played more this season than Talbot (38-21-8, 2.37 GAA, .920 SP), who has appeared in 68 games and recorded 3992 minutes – more than 400 minutes more than Devan Dubnyk. After a rare game off against Colorado on March 25, he returned to the net to make 34 saves in a 2-1 Oilers win against Los Angeles on Tuesday.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Timo Meier – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Melker Karlsson – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Jannik Hansen – Tomas Hertl – Mikkel Boedker
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell 

Oilers
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Zack Kassian
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit

INJURIES

Sharks: Logan Couture (face) is out.

Oilers: None.

QUOTEABLE

“It’s big to play those teams that you’re battling with. … It’s going to be tough. But, it’s good to start ramping it up. It’s only going to get harder.” – Brent Burns