After some promising seasons as a young second baseman with Milwaukee, Rickie Weeks spent the past two seasons as a reserve outfielder with Seattle and Arizona. Never a great contact hitter earlier in his career, Weeks saw his contact rate settle in at 70 percent in 2015 and 2016, which matched his previous career-low set in 2013. Weeks also saw his strikeout rate climb to 26.3 percent the last two seasons, up from his career rate of 23.6 percent. Now 34 years old and a free agent, Weeks' days as an everyday player are almost certainly behind him. He showed in 2016 that he can still provide some power (nine home runs in 180 at-bats, .450 slugging percentage, .211 ISO), and his five steals in five attempts were a small bonus. If Weeks can secure an MLB roster spot with the Rays in 2017, he projects as a reserve player who will likely see the field primarily against left-handed pitching, considering his 1.010 OPS against lefties last season compared to a .639 OPS against righties.
Weeks went 2-for-3 with a two-run double, solo home run and two runs in Tuesday's 10-6 Grapefruit League split-squad victory over the Yankees. The veteran has been tearing the cover off the ball all spring, with Tuesday merely serving as the latest example. Weeks' third homer of spring was of the opposite-field variety and came off Yankees starter Luis Severino. The outing brought his spring line to a stellar .500/.571/1.222 over 18 at-bats, while the trio of RBI vaulted him into the team lead.
Weeks went 2-for-2 with a pair of run-scoring doubles and one run in Friday's 5-2 Grapefruit League win over the Tigers. Weeks, who manager Kevin Cash had stated would have to hit his way onto the roster, now boasts a .700 average (7-for-10) with three doubles, two home runs, six RBI and six runs over five spring games, all while also learning to play first base. The 34-year-old, who has extensive experience at second base during his long career, is striving to become the right-handed side of a platoon with Logan Morrison at first, and believes the defensive adjustment is one he'll master. "I played the infield for a long time," he said. "(Fielding) ground ball's nothing. Just learning positioning. Just be in the right spot. That's the main thing for me."
Weeks went 3-for-3 with a double, three-run home run and three runs overall in Tuesday's 19-0 Grapefruit League win over the Twins. The veteran filled the DH role in Tuesday's blowout and continued his white-hot hitting by taking the Twins' Felix Jorge deep in the third with Corey Dickerson and Brad Miller aboard. Factoring in Tuesday's production, Weeks is hitting .833 with Tuesday's double, two homers, four RBI and four runs over his first three spring games.
Weeks went 2-for-2 with a solo home run in Sunday's 7-3 Grapefruit League win over the Red Sox. Weeks started at first base, where he's expected to platoon with Logan Morrison this coming season, and hit out of the three-hole in the order. He unloaded off reliever Marcus Walden with one out in the third for his first round-tripper of spring while also turning in a clean defensive performance at his new position, two encouraging signs with respect to the team's expectations for the veteran offseason acquisition.
Weeks, who reported to Rays camp Friday, was at first base in his initial workout, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The 34-year-old has extensive experience at second base and also was deployed in the outfield with the Diamondbacks last season, but will be acclimating to a new position in his 14th major league campaign. With the news that manager Kevin Cash has decided on Brad Miller as his second baseman, Weeks will be left to platoon with Logan Morrison at first base. Considering his solid .284/.368/.642 line and superb .419 wOBA against southpaws in 2016, the veteran could offer some serviceable production in his new role this coming season.