Jemile Weeks is trying to learn as much as he can about Baltimore before joining his new teammates at FanFest and in spring training. But he’s going to need more time.
“All I’ve gotten so far is Charm City and the Birdland thing that’s going on,” he said last night during our phone conversation. “I’ve still got to go out and explore the city.”
The trade that unfolded Monday night is still fresh, and Weeks joked that he was doing his best to answer my questions and be as helpful as possible despite his limited knowledge of the city, the circumstances, the details.
For example, he has no idea what number he’ll be wearing or whether he’s going to compete for the starting job at second base. And yes, I asked in that order, because the number thing is a big deal to some folks.
I’m here for you.
“I got the call and I’ve just been thanking the man above and being thankful for the opportunity. I don’t know much beyond that,” he said.
“I’m not sure what my role is. We haven’t talked about it yet. Anybody who knows me knows I go out there and play as well as I can and try to be the best player I can be. No matter what my role is, they’re going to get the same type of effort out of me regardless. It doesn’t really concern me what my role will be. I’ll just go out there and be the same player.”
The Orioles are counting on a better version.
Weeks had a strong rookie campaign, batting .303/.340/.421 with 26 doubles, eight triples and 22 stolen bases in 97 games, but his production slipped so badly, he played in only eight games for the A’s this season.
“This is probably the best thing for me at this point,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll make the most of it. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Asked why he hasn’t been able to duplicate his rookie success, Weeks replied, “There are a number of things that I could say - this didn’t go right or I tried to do this and tried to switch things up. But it all boils down to everything happens for a reason. I learned a lot from it and I think I’ll be much better for it going forward. I hope Baltimore enjoys it.”
Weeks is in Orlando, where he got the news of the trade that sent closer Jim Johnson to the A’s - a trade orchestrated entirely by executive vice president Dan Duquette.
“I talked to my agent and heard there may have been things in the works as far as a trade, but I really didn’t know about Baltimore and how the A’s were about to pull the trigger. I had no idea,” Weeks said. “It kind of caught me by surprise. Obviously, it was late on Monday, about 11-something. It caught me off-guard.
“I think that’s why I was shocked as much as I was. I’ve never been through the process before. I’ve never seen it done, with my brother (Rickie) in Milwaukee for so long. It’s just one of those first-time things. I think it’s going to be a learning experience, but I also think it’s a good fit for me.”
Weeks knows that he’s replacing a popular player, one whose departure has upset some Orioles.
“I honestly think it’s one of those things where, when a move is made, you just have to go in there and be yourself,” said Weeks, who’s friends with Danny Valencia from their days at the University of Miami. “Just be a good teammate, be nice to everybody, and be hungry to play. As long as that’s accepted, there won’t be any lingering problems for me or anything.”