PHOENIX—From the time second baseman Jemile Weeks arrived at spring training, the Athletics could see a change.
"He came here with a different look about himself," big league infield coach Mike Gallego said. "What caught my attention was that he was very serious about finding ways to make himself better. There was a confidence about him, and he seemed to be telling us that you have not yet seen the real Mr. Weeks."
Ever since Weeks was selected 12th overall in the 2008 draft, he has been sidetracked by a series of leg and lower-body injuries. A strained left hip cost him the first two months of last season, and he played in only 80 games, just 30 of them with Double-A Midland.
Weeks said during spring training that his legs and hip were fine.
The A's project Weeks as a speedy top-of-the-order hitter and a superior defensive second baseman. But the defense has been a work in progress since he signed out of Miami.
"I think my biggest improvement has been defensively," Weeks said. "Just being more relaxed in game situations."
He had a tendency to rush his actions, making mistakes by trying to be too fast. Now Weeks' project is to improve his footwork and actions around second base through the spring and during the season at Midland.
"We really saw his maturity developing," Gallego said. "He was always listening and learning. When we had a rainout, he wanted to sit and talk about playing defense."
The 23-year-old switch-hitter also spent much time with stolen base king Rickey Henderson working on basestealing skills.
"When you work with guys who really know what they're talking about, you gain confidence," Weeks said. "When you have confidence, you're going to be more successful than you were before.
"(Henderson) gave us factors to key in on a pitcher and key on certain movements. For him, everything is about explosion, whether you're going back to the bag or toward second base. You want to explode either way. When you explode, you get your best start."
• The A's liked what they saw from big league Rule 5 pick Bobby Cassevah, but a well-stocked bullpen forced them to return the righthander to the Angels.
• The A's traded shortstop Gregorio Petit to the Rangers for changeup-wielding reliever Edwar Ramirez, a righthander who compiled a 5.22 ERA in 96 games with the Yankees from 2007-09.