Off DL, Ellis says A's need to play Weeks
Veteran will be used as a utility infielder for the time being
NEW YORK -- Fresh off the disabled list, Mark Ellis walked into manager Bob Melvin's office on Wednesday to talk about a second-base situation that has seemingly been made complicated given rookie Jemile Weeks' sudden success.
Except there wasn't much to discuss. At least not in Ellis' opinion.
"He made it very easy on me," Melvin said. "You would, to an extent, expect that, but to the extent and the level he went, for me, was off the charts. The first thing I said to him was, 'OK, the second-base situation,' and he said, 'That's an easy one, you gotta play him.'"
So Weeks will play, and Ellis will watch -- maybe even from first or third base as a utility infielder. He has two years worth of college experience at the hot corner and also played seven games there for the A's in 2007. First base is less familiar to Ellis, but the club's longest-tenured player is ready to embrace any role.
"It's different, I'm not going to lie, but Jemile has played great," Ellis said. "He's played unbelievable. He's created a spark for this team, and I think it's obvious. I still see myself playing second base every day, so we'll see what happens there, but he's played too good to be out of the lineup."
"Coming from someone who is real coveted in this organization, it's a great feeling to be able to have his support given the situation we're in," Weeks said. "I'm glad he's happy for me, I'm glad to be a part of the team with him and we'll work from there -- team up to help this team win."
Ellis, 34, is coming off his sixth career DL stint and looking to improve upon the numbers he left behind two weeks ago -- a .211 average and a .245 on-base percentage, which was fourth lowest in the American League at the time of his injury. However, he has just two errors to his name this season for a .994 fielding percentage and boasts a .990 career mark.
Ellis' defensive resume is matched only by his professionalism, and both give Weeks a respected model to copy.
"It's very rare, and it's very tough to be a leader when you're not in the lineup every day, but there are certain guys that can do that, and Mark Ellis is one of those guys," Melvin said. "He's respected just as much whether he's on the field, whether he's on the bench, whether he's playing a different position. The respect comes from what he's done and what he stands for and how he is as a person."
Given Ellis' understandable desire to continue his career as an everyday second baseman, the veteran was questioned about trade rumors that have circulated in recent weeks. Currently earning $6 million in the final year of a three-year contract worth $16.5 million, Ellis said it's "out of my control," but mentioned he can't imagine putting on another uniform.
"Obviously I think about it a little and I still see myself playing second base every day, but my loyalties run so deep in this organization that it's hard to even think about being somewhere else," he said. "That will all play itself out."
Ellis has a partial no-trade clause in his contract and said he can veto a trade to six teams. In the meantime, though, his focus remains on the field, no matter the position. He could draw a start at first base as early as Thursday, depending on the club's need for Conor Jackson in the outfield if Josh Willingham (sore Achilles tendon) remains out of the mix.
"Wherever [Melvin] puts me is where I'm gonna go," Ellis said. "An infielder is an infielder. Everything's a little different, but it's still catching a ground ball and throwing a ground ball.
"Watching [Weeks] play, I'm proud of him. He's done a great job. He's my teammate. I'm doing nothing but rooting for him and for this organization really, to tell you the truth. It's the only place I've ever known, and it's not a bad thing to have too many good players."