Weeks looking forward, never back
Past injuries not an issue for Brewers' second baseman
PHOENIX -- Rickie Weeks has more surgical scars on his hands and wrists than healthy years in the big leagues. But if you think the Brewers' starting second baseman is stressing about whether the coming season will finally be his breakthrough, then you've got the wrong guy.
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2010 Spring Training - Milwaukee Brewers
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"I don't know, and honestly, I don't really care," Weeks said. "It happened. You can look back and say, 'Why me?' But, hey, God has a different plan, so you have to keep pushing."He'll push alongside Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph, who was particularly devastated by Weeks' injury last season. It was Randolph's first year on Milwaukee's staff, and he worked extensively with Weeks in Spring Training to soften his hands on defense. Randolph believes he was seeing progress. Then came the sudden surgery. "We're just going back to scratch, really," Randolph said. "One of the most disappointing parts of last year, other than the fact we didn't get to the playoffs, was his getting hurt. I really felt like he was ready to take off. "It looks like he's in great shape right now, so I'm anticipating big things again." Randolph said Weeks' "in the moment" approach to the game reminds him of freshly minted Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. He's not saying that Weeks is bound for the Hall of Fame, but they have the same focus and intensity, according to Randolph. "It's almost like a football mentality, and that's how Rickie is," Randolph said. "He's a throwback. He's no-nonsense, doesn't make excuses. "What's weird is that maybe I was like that, too. I didn't fraternize a lot. I wasn't very talkative on the field. Robin Yount told me when I played with him in Milwaukee after he got to know me, 'Man, you're a pretty good guy. But you never talk! I didn't really like you in the field at first because I always try to say hi and you're real serious.'
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"That was my mentality. Take no prisoners. Play the game hard. I see that in Rickie. He brings an intensity, and even though [Craig] Counsell and other guys did a great job last year picking us up when Rickie went out, I thought we lost our attitude, our edge."Whether Weeks is himself at the start of the season remains to be seen. The last time he had his surgery, on his right wrist in August 2006, he batted .247 through the end of May before going to the disabled list with tendonitis. But Weeks and Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash both point out that Weeks had his surgery three months earlier this time. That means he has had much longer to recover. "I think it works both ways," Ash said. "He knows better how to approach his rehab. And he's had much longer this time as well, so he had longer to recover. He feels very well, and I know [hitting coach] Dale Sveum already commented that it looks like he's swinging pain-free. It's all optimistic, it's just trying to be conservative at this point." Weeks said he has been hitting since November. He works out over the winter in Orlando with Brewers teammate Prince Fielder and former teammate (and surprising free agent) Felipe Lopez. "Last time I was still rehabbing in Spring Training," Weeks said. "This time, I've had three months of hitting to get ready. I've been telling everybody that it doesn't even feel like I had surgery." Weeks will be particularly focused this spring on getting on the same page with a new shortstop. Rookie Alcides Escobar played extensively after an Aug. 12 callup last season, but Weeks was out by then. Was there any silver lining to another season cut short? "There's nothing good about staying out of the game that long," Weeks said. "It's not fun to see the team not do as well as it wants to do. The big thing was just being there for the guys. I'm excited to be back."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.