In Rickie Weeks, M’s have a player that provides interesting options

Feb 13, 2015, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm
Jack Zduriencik said new signing Rickie Weeks’ ability to hit lefties will be “very imp...
Jack Zduriencik said new signing Rickie Weeks' ability to hit lefties will be "very important" to the M's in 2015. (AP)

Two weeks ago Jack Zduriencik took a closer look at a free agent that he was surprised was still available. He had scouted Rickie Weeks as a college freshman and eventually drafted and signed him while with the Milwaukee Brewers. As a second baseman he wasn’t an obvious fit for the Mariners, but he was a player that Zduriencik believed could contribute on the club he had put together for 2015.

“He’s one of the toughest players I have ever been around,” Zduriencik said on a conference call Friday shortly after the Mariners announced the signing of Weeks. “He plays the game with reckless abandon. He’s been a guy who will go through a wall for you. He’s a great teammate, wonderful young man, determined to win. He’s a winner. In addition to those things he brings to the table I think he’s determined to bounce back from limited playing time or a different role from the past and I think his ability to hit left-handed pitching is going to be very important to us.”

There are hurdles to overcome before Weeks can take the field, namely learning a new position – or three. While there were reports that Weeks was not open to changing positions while with the Brewers, things change.

“Early on there was the possibility that I could play second base for someone, but as it went along teams were thinking about me trying new positions. Obviously, I’ve just got to open up to it,” said Weeks.

For most veterans, spring training is a matter of familiar routines and getting ready. For Weeks this spring training will be about learning. Can he learn a new position in six weeks?

“I’m not going to say it’s easy,” he said. “Obviously it is going to take work and I have no problem with hard work.”

Zduriencik pointed out that Weeks is a player with an important tool – ability to hit left-handed pitching. As such, that makes the investment of changing positions well worth it. If Weeks can learn the positions there will be opportunities to get on the field.

“He’s going to get a chance to play,” Zduriencik said. “I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Rickie is an every day player, Rickie is a backup player.’ Rickie is going to come in and compete for a job.”

It has been indicated that his best chances for playing time will be in left field and first base. He will not be asked to backup shortstop. Zduriencik said that job still belongs to Willie Bloomquist, who he believes will be healthy enough to go at the beginning of the season.

“We think Willie will be ready,” he said. “The decision to bring Rickie in was not related to Willie Bloomquist at all. Willie is Willie and Willie serves a purpose for us provided he is ready to go when the bell goes off. I think the addition of Rickie will make it tougher on some other people on the roster, but not related to Willie at all. I think both of these guys fit nicely on our ballclub.”

More specifically on the Mariners bench, which all of a sudden has a much more veteran look to it.

No starting pitcher.

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In Rickie Weeks, M’s have a player that provides interesting options