PHOENIX The A's are trying to set new standards at second base and shortstop this Cactus League season, and one game into it, the reviews are good.
One review of second baseman Jemile Weeks was particularly good.
"He's an All-Star second baseman, I know that for a fact," Milwaukee's second baseman said as the Brewers escaped with a 2-1 win over Oakland in the Cactus League opener. The speaker was the Brewers' Rickie Weeks.
"That's my brother," Jemile said after being told of Rickie Weeks' bragging. "That don't count."
It may count for something, since Rickie Weeks was an All-Star in 2011 and knows what it takes. Jemile was a rising star that same year when he joined the A's but fell on hard times in 2012, including a demotion to Triple-A Sacramento in the middle of a pennant race in August. Now he's trying to climb back.
"I've been there, we all have," Rickie Weeks said. "But he's got a very strong mindset. I tried to help by telling him what I'd gone through."
In addition to his mindset, Jemile Weeks also owns a nasty backhand flip. With Jesse Chavez pitching in the second inning, Jemile broke to his left to make a diving stop of a ball hit sharply by Jean Segura. Not only did Weeks track the ball down, but he made a dead-reckoning toss to a player with whom he has scant acquaintance, A's shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima.
If Weeks wins the five-man competition for second base this spring, he and Nakajima, the import from Japan, will be working together a lot. And on this play, at least, they looked like they were in sync.
"Perfect," was the way Nakajima described the throw from Weeks through an interpreter.
"I had to trust him and throw where I thought he'd be," Weeks said.
Nakajima was spot on, then got off a one-hop throw to first baseman Brandon Moss to complete the double play.
"I thought he looked good, smooth," manager Bob Melvin said. "That was a nice little double play when Weeksie made that throw. The double-play ball was hit pretty hard."
Melvin gave high marks to the approach of both men at the plate. Weeks doubled in his first at-bat, while Nakajima was 0 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout.
"(Nakajima) was not trying to pull homers, he was getting some good looks and taking some pitches," Melvin said. "He's learning the opponent. On first impression, he looked good today."
Nakajima said he was a little nervous, but getting a walk in the top of the first inning and fielding a grounder in the bottom of the first erased some of the jitters.
"I feel good to get the first experience," Nakajima said. "It was good to see live pitching. The more games I play, the more comfortable it will be."
Notes The A's run came on a double by Shane Peterson and an RBI single by Michael Choice in the seventh inning. Later in the inning, Oakland had men on first and second before Grant Green struck out.
First-base candidate Scott Moore made a terrific diving stop and turned an eighth-inning double play. "That ball was in the corner," Melvin said. "He almost caught it behind him. He's a left-handed bat and a good pickup for us."
Chavez gave up one hit, a homer to Ryan Braun in the first inning, and walked two in the second. The walks bothered both Chavez and Melvin. "I had some command issues today," Chavez said.