Mark Ellis is headed to disabled list with a hamstring injury suffered last night, so the A’s have called up Jemile Weeks from Triple-A to take over as the starting second baseman.
Weeks will be in the lineup tonight as Oakland’s leadoff hitter, which has primarily been Coco Crisp’s spot in the batting order.
Weeks is the younger brother of Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks and was the A’s first-round pick in 2008. He had mediocre numbers at Single-A and Double-A, but has hit .321 with 10 steals and an .862 OPS in 45 games at Triple-A, drawing nearly as many walks (29) as strikeouts (32) while getting on base at a .414 clip.
He projects as a solid regular rather than a semi-star like his brother and Weeks may have to impress right away to hang onto a roster spot once Ellis is ready to return, but in the meantime the A’s will take an early look at Ellis’ long-term replacement.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.