Gutierrez: Weeks should stay when Ellis arrives

387720.jpg

Gutierrez: Weeks should stay when Ellis arrives

JUNE 19, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
A's PAGE A's VIDEOFollow @PGutierrezCSN
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.

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

jozy-altidore-usa-costarica-ap.jpg
AP

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas — Clint Dempsey fed Jozy Altidore for the go-ahead goal, then scored on a free kick to match Landon Donovan’s American record with his 57th international goal and lead the United States over Costa Rica 2-0 Saturday night and into the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game.

Playing in his home state of Texas, the 34-year-old Dempsey entered in the 66th minute and made a perfectly timed through pass six minutes later that allowed Altidore to break in alone and beat Patrick Pemberton with a left-footed shot from 10 yards.

Dempsey doubled the lead in the 82nd minute with a 27-yard shot that went around a four-man defensive wall and got past Pemberton on two bounces.

“I saw the keeper cheating a little bit, and it went in,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey has 136 international appearances, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Donovan (157) among American players. The assist was his 20th for the national team.

“Coming back from two heart procedures, being able to still play at this level,” Dempsey said in his Texas twang, “living a dream. So I’m happy.”

Trying for their sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013, the Americans play Mexico or Jamaica in the final on Wednesday at Santa Clara, California.

The U.S. improved to 8-0-5 since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November and returned for a second stint as national team coach. Arena can become the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles following championships in 2002 and 2005.

Tim Howard got his second straight shutout, making key saves on Marco Urena in the 37th and 71st minutes.

After the second save, Dempsey took a pass from Darlington Nagbe in the center circle, made a cut, and took three touches as he sprinted toward goal. Altidore one-timed a shot for his first national team goal since September and ripped off his No. 27 jersey in a wild celebration, earning a yellow card.

Dempsey’s goal sealed the win, putting the U.S. back in the championship after a shocking semifinal loss to Jamaica two years ago. He was playing for the first time in AT&T Stadium, the $1.2 billion home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys that is about 180 miles from his hometown of Nacogdoches.

“Congratulations, Clint,” Donovan said while working on the Fox telecast of the game. “Feel free to stop now, we’ll share it together.”

After starting in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win over El Salvador, Dempsey moved to a reserve role against the Ticos. While the U.S. inserted five new starters in a roster rotation, Costa Rica went with the same 11 players who started in Wednesday’s win against Panama.

Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 at home in a World Cup qualifier in November, the final game before Klinsmann was fired and Arena was brought back. And up ahead is another matchup, a qualifier on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey.

Morris, one of the new starters, hit a post just 11 seconds in.

Just before kickoff, El Salvador defender Henry Romero was suspended for his nation’s next six competitive matches and midfielder Darwin Ceren for the next three, those penalties coming three days after Romero bit Altidore and Ceren bit Omar Gonzalez during the quarterfinal. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said the discipline was issued by the Gold Cup disciplinary committee for “anti-sporting behavior.”

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivered a tying single with two outs in the eighth off left-hander Daniel CoulombeJay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the sixth to begin New York's comeback, and Jose Reyes tripled twice.

Flores connected on a 96 mph fastball from Simon Castro (0-1), sending a line drive to left field for the second game-ending homer of his career. That sent a frenzied crowd of 39,629 home happy - hours after fans lined up early in the heat outside Citi Field to get their Noah Syndergaard as Thor bobbleheads.

Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and Matt Chapman added a prodigious shot for Oakland, which scored four in the first off struggling Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Sean Manaea took a shutout into the sixth but then wilted after throwing a career-high 115 pitches Sunday in his previous start, a win against Cleveland.

Hansel Robles (6-1) tossed a hitless inning to win for the second straight day.

MAN ON THE MOVE:
With Mets second baseman Neil Walker nearing a return from the disabled list, perhaps Monday in San Diego, Asdrubal Cabrera made his first major league start at third and played flawless defense after working out at the position once. Cabrera's only previous appearance at the hot corner came during his rookie season in 2007 with Cleveland. "He's a middle infielder who's going to play third base. Got great hands, great arm. He'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said. Cabrera initially balked at shifting from shortstop to second when he came off the DL about a month ago.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: Ryon Healy had a pinch-hit single after getting hit near the left temple by a bad-hop grounder Friday night. Healy went through the concussion protocol and was cleared, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Melvin said he would have news after the game regarding RHP Jharel Cotton, on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb. Cotton threw a bullpen Friday. Oakland needs a starter for Monday night at Toronto. ... INF-OF Chad Pinder (strained left hamstring) homered Friday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville and could come off the DL when Oakland begins a homestand next weekend. "That's kind of the target area," Melvin said.

Mets: Walker (left hamstring) went 1 for 3 with Triple-A Las Vegas at Memphis in the first game of rehab assignment. The switch-hitter has been on the DL since June 15. ... LHP Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth in his first outing since coming off the disabled list Thursday. Smoker had been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left shoulder.

UP NEXT:
Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) makes his eighth career start in Sunday's series finale against RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40). Gossett has given up 10 homers in 37 1/3 innings after yielding only four in 60 2/3 innings at Triple-A.