It was a little over a year ago that Jemile Weeks was the Oakland A's most untradeable player. He was coming off an outstanding rookie season where he .303 and stole 22 bases. Times have changed.
Now, those expectations have been flipped on their heads with Weeks unable to get out of Triple-A Sacramento despite putting up good numbers at the plate and improving defensively thanks to a lengthy stint at shortstop. Tempering his frustrations with his assignment has been tough, he said.
"You just hope you're still in the team's plans. At my position, I'm at the other end of that," Weeks said. "I'm playing at Triple-A right now. I know I'm a big league talent but I have to prove myself at Triple-A and I'll do that."
While Weeks is hitting a solid .287 with an on-base clip of .404 with the River Cats, his competition at second base isn't having anywhere near the same level of success with the A's. Oakland second basemen are getting on-base at a rate of .319.
"I think he's playing with a little chip on his shoulder," River Cats manager Steve Scarsone said. "He's got a little flair, a little style and he does some things some people take the wrong way. But I look at it like he has some personality. He's got some pizzazz or whatever. He's going to deliver his best every day."
Weeks wasn't able to backup his outstanding rookie year as a major-league sophomore. Whether it was pitchers figuring him out, a flaw in mechanics or a combination of the two, his numbers fell drastically across the board in his 97 games with Oakland before getting demoted back to Sacramento.
"When he came down last year he was not the same guy that he is this year," Scarsone said. "A little bit of time, a little bit of maturing...he entered this season with a good attitude, I thought. I know we had some conversations early because I was concerned about how he would be taking on the situation."
When Weeks was promoted to the big leagues for the first time in 2011, he had spent just over two months in Triple-A and saw immediate success. He hit .321/.417/.446 in 45 games for the River Cats before continuing his success with Oakland. He played so well in 2011 that he was perhaps ill-prepared to deal with an extended slump, like the one he experienced last year.
With the A's currently struggling in May – just as they did in 2012 prior to their improbable playoff run – there's a chance another major roster shakeup could occur, and Weeks could be a part of that shakeup.
"I'm just looking to better myself and help the team here win," Weeks said. "but definitely better myself and create an avenue for myself at this point that's going to make me a better ballplayer at this level and the big league level."
For now, it seems the A's are content with using a combination of Eric Sogard, Adam Rosales and Jed Lowrie at second. It's unlikely the A's would bring Weeks back unless there was an opportunity to become the everyday option. But Oakland hasn't shied away from dipping into the minor leagues midway through the season in the past, making Weeks' return to Oakland a distinct possibility.