Adjustments paying off early for Weeks
Rickie Weeks has made some long-debated adjustments to his batting stance, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke loves the early results.
“Geez, he’s killing the baseball,” Roenicke said Tuesday morning, before Weeks manned second base against the A’s. “I hope he continues it. When he’s swinging the bat like this, he is really fun to watch.”
Because he arrived amid such high expectations after the Brewers made Weeks the second overall pick in the 2003 Draft, Weeks’ batting stance has long been a focus of armchair hitting coaches. Throughout his career he has held his hands particularly low, and has waggled the bat like Gary Sheffield.
Through hand injuries and advancing age, Weeks has mostly remained consistent in his stance. Now, after batting .230 in 2012 and .209 in 2013, the waggle is still there but Weeks is working on some subtle changes with his hands, Roenicke said.
“It’s not just age as you get older, [but] you learn to do different things,” Roenicke said. “I think sometimes you just realize that I’m not successful in this and I’ve got to make some improvements. Sometimes it’s with stance, sometimes it’s your thinking that changes. He’s made some adjustments, and right now, it looks really good.”
Weeks was 4-for-7 with a home run in his first three spring games.
It is a well-timed hot streak. Weeks, set to earn $11 million this season in the final guaranteed year of his contract, is in a battle with 23-year-old Scooter Gennett. When Weeks tore his left hamstring last August and needed surgery, Gennett capitalized, and finished the season batting .324 while playing better-than-advertised defense.
The Brewers insist second base is an open competition, and other Major League teams are probably watching. The Brewers could try to trade one of their second basemen later in camp, or they could institute the sort of platoon that was actually working last season before Weeks was hurt.
Weeks is making the decision difficult so far.
“If you guys watch balls come off his bat, it’s pretty scary,” Roenicke said. “He’s one of those rare guys that has that kind of pop that it doesn’t matter where he hits it.”
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