Weeks Rewards Athletics With Breakthrough Year

OAKLAND—Through his first three professional seasons, second baseman Jemile Weeks' career seemed like a series of injuries interrupted by a few spectacular moments on the field.

Hip and leg problems limited the 24-year-old switch-hitter just 80 games in 2009, and 77 in 2010. So he decided to do something about it.

Weeks embraced an offseason regimen to strengthen his lower half and make him less susceptible to injury. The reward came with a fully healthy season in which he batted .321/.417/.446 in 184 at-bats with Triple-A Sacramento before moving on to Oakland, where he hit .303/.340/.421 in 406 at-bats.

"I think it's better training," Weeks said of his healthy year. "Just being more persistent in what I'm doing as far as my body. I know what it takes now. I understand what my offseason plan has to be, and to get after it."

At 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, Weeks raised fears that he  might be too frail to endure a full major league season. Weeks joined the Athletics on June 7, when Mark Ellis went down with an injury, and performed so well that the A's dealt Ellis to the Rockies.

After being drafted 12th overall out of Miami in 2008, Weeks expressed reluctance to become a leadoff hitter after having hit mostly second at Miami. His opinion has since changed. "I've grown into the role over time," he said. "I try to get on and make the defense pay attention. I think I can help the hitters behind me."

Weeks also significantly improved his defense. While he still made mistakes in the majors, he showed the skills that could lead to him becoming an outstanding defender. He credits Ellis, infield coach Mike Gallego and a host of minor league coaches for helping him improve.

"They all had a hand in helping me with my defense and putting my legs under me," he said. "A lot of times in the past, I haven't had my legs up under me, and now I'm learning how to gather them back, and I'm learning to use them more. That's basically the key to it."


• Center fielder Dayton Alexander was named most improved player and righthander Cecil Tanner most improved pitcher out of instructional league.

• Righty Arnold Leon and lefty Pedro Figueroa remained healthy through instructional league and were expected to be ready for spring training. Both missed the 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery.