GreenJackets' Weeks showing his versatility

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Earning playing time in a minor league lineup can be difficult for a player not considered a prime prospect by the big league organization.

Joel Weeks , a 26-year-old nondrafted free agent, hasn't let that get in the way.

Weeks came to the GreenJackets in June as a backup catcher, seeing irregular playing time for most of the month. After posting a .329 batting average and .406 on-base percentage, Weeks has forced manager Lipso Nava to find a spot for him in the lineup on a daily basis.

"He's a really valuable guy," Nava said. "He makes everything easier, especially when a guy wants a day off and wants to get some rest."

Weeks has an added value in that he's comfortable playing any position on the field. Along with catching, he's filled in at third base, second base and shortstop this season. He said he's been lobbying the coaching staff for a chance to prove himself on the mound.

A pitcher in high school and junior college, Weeks was primarily a second baseman for Cal State Fullerton, where he played in the 2007 College World Series, before the San Francisco Giants signed him as a catcher and later moved him to shortstop in rookie ball. Since then, he has played every fielding position in his four-year minor league career.

"I like playing, so I'll play anywhere. I just want to be in the game," he said. "Whenever they call on me, I'm ready."

Though used mostly as a catcher in Augusta, Weeks made the top defensive play of the homestand as a shortstop Friday night when he made a diving stop in the 11th inning to start a 6-4-3 double play.

"He can catch, he can play anywhere in the infield or outfield," Nava said. "That's what makes him valuable."

SCOREBOARD WATCHING : Though the GreenJackets still have 46 regular season games to play, they can't help but get excited about moving steadily up the South Atlantic League's Southern Division standings thanks to their longest winning streak of the season.

Though Nava said it's too early for him to worry about which team is in first place, All-Star third baseman Adam Duvall admitted he's taken a look at the standings a few times.

"You can use it as motivation," he said. "There's nothing wrong with that."

The GreenJackets, who entered Monday's action a half-game behind first-place Savannah, sat in sixth place and seven games out just two weeks ago.

MAKEUP : Rainouts on consecutive nights last week shortened the series between Augusta and the Hagerstown Suns to three games instead of four. The last game will be made up in Hagerstown, Md., next week when the GreenJackets play the Suns in a scheduled three-game series. The two teams will play a doubleheader Thursday starting at 5:05 p.m.

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM : South Atlantic League pitching proved too much for Sundrendy Windster when he spent the first month of the season with the GreenJackets as a designated hitter. He only managed four hits in 37 at-bats and was sent back to extended spring training in May.

Instead of working on his swing, the 22-year-old right-hander decided to change sides and become a pitcher. He showed his arm strength to Augusta pitching coach Steve Kline before leaving and has spent most of the summer learning the game from the mound.

"He threw some bullpen (sessions) here," Kline said. "He's good. I'm happy for him."

Kline said Windster's fastball hit 90-93 mph and that he added a quality change-up to his arsenal.

As a reliever for the Giants' Arizona Rookie League squad, he has held opponents scoreless in three of five outings. Three of the four earned runs he's given up came in one rocky appearance, and he has yet to earn a decision, with the bulk of his work coming in middle relief.


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