PHOENIX - As the Oakland A's went through cutoff and relay drills Thursday morning, Jemile Weeks stood in foul territory in a green warm-up sweater, his long hair spilling out of the back of his hat and his glove on his hand, watching.
That's not where Weeks wants to be at this point in spring training as he tries to reclaim the second base job he lost during a disappointing 2012. Weeks bruised his right shoulder when he was upended at second base last Friday against the Giants and has been held out since.
Weeks is targeting a return this weekend, but he acknowledged some frustration Thursday. He was off to a good start, going 6 for 11 with a home run and five RBIs, before the injury.
"I think it was bad timing," Weeks said. "But it's part of the game. So it's something I have to deal with and just face like a man, and try to get back as fast as possible."
Weeks began last season as the A's second baseman after a promising rookie year in 2011, but he hit .221 in 118 games and was sent to the Triple-A River Cats in late August. The A's brought him back for a short stretch in September but left him off their playoff roster.
Weeks called it a "learning year" and said his problems were more mental than physical. He didn't fully recover from a slow start that had him batting .181 at the end of April. On Thursday, he promised that this season "will be a much better year."
"Because I know I'm not the player that you saw last year," he said. "Never have been."
Chili Davis, the A's hitting coach, agrees.
Weeks is naturally aggressive in his playing style and approach at the plate, Davis said, and that served Weeks well his rookie season, when he batted .303 with 26 doubles and stole 22 bases in 97 games in Oakland.
"He played with no fear in 2011," Davis said. "Last year, the aggressiveness wasn't there the way it was in 2011 consistently. And when he tried to force it, it became overaggressiveness."
That may have led to Weeks' swing getting a little "big," with less focus on line drives and base hits. Weeks was constantly trying to find his swing in the cage last season, Davis said, "and it didn't happen for him."
Weeks said he's striving for better consistency this year, through "refreshing your mind every day, not taking today into tomorrow." On the field, he wants to be better "all-around."
"I want to leave this game with the impression that I was a great all-around player," he said.
"I feel that's who I am. I've always been that person. I had a dull moment out of like 25 years of life. ... You just try to battle back. That's what I'm doing right now, trying to battle back and refresh myself."
The A's are deep in the infield, and Weeks, Scott Sizemore and Jed Lowrie are candidates for second base, with Adam Rosales also in the mix. Manager Bob Melvin said he is "not 100 percent sure what's going to be the dynamic" at the position on Opening Day.
Of Weeks' injury, Melvin said: "I don't think the timing's ever great. But if you are going to get injured in spring, earlier is better than later."
Melvin said he isn't surprised to see Weeks has "swung the bat very well to this point."
Neither is Davis, who said Weeks has looked much more in control at the plate.
"Sometimes it's good to get knocked on your (butt) so that next time you get up on your feet, you'll expect that punch coming at you," Davis said. "And I think by watching him so far this spring, he's much more determined. He's working his (butt) off, and you can see him being the competitor he was the year before at home plate.
"I like what I see now."
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