Versatile Weeks making case for roster spot

Versatile Weeks making case for roster spot

TEMPE, Ariz. -- In his quest to win one of the Padres' last available roster spots, Jemile Weeks' versatility will be just as important as any of his offensive numbers this spring.

Fortunately for Weeks, he's been more than proficient in both areas.

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Not only is Weeks hitting .364 with a 1.018 OPS this spring, but he's manned five positions in Cactus League play -- the fifth coming during Saturday's 9-8 loss to the Angels. Weeks started in center field -- where he's played just five innings in his Major League career.

Over six defensive innings, Weeks was tested only once, ranging nicely into the right-center-field gap to track down a Johnny Giavotella fly ball. He also drove in a run with a third-inning single.

"It's been fun," Weeks said. "It's been one of those things where you're coming to the field, and you don't know where you're going to play all the time. But you're expecting to go out there and put forth your best effort. They told me center field today, so I go out there and go hard."

Along with Weeks, Alexi Amarista and Adam Rosales are also in the mix for super-utility roles. The Padres will open the season with at least one, and maybe two of them on the roster.

So where does Weeks stand?

"I'm not even trying to know," he said. "I'm not even trying to read into it. But I am trying to show them that I do want to help the team in any way possible."

This spring, Weeks has played second base, third base, shortstop, left field and, now, center. And the solid offensive numbers aren't hurting his roster case either.

"[If] you can play more positions, a player like him, it's going to better you," said acting manager Mark McGwire. "He's had quite a spring. He's opened up a lot of eyes."

Pirela's solo home run

Pirela continues to mash

Outfielder Jose Pirela launched his first home run of the spring on Saturday, an eighth inning shot against Angels reliever Al Alburquerque. With a 2-for-4 day, Pirela upped his batting average to .360, and he has impressed the Padres with his exit velocity.

Pirela is also in the mix for one of the Padres' final bench spots, but he hasn't received much attention this spring.

"He's not under my radar at all," said Padres manager Andy Green before he left for Mexico on Friday. "He's somebody we're paying close attention to. He's consistent hard contact, he can really turn a fastball around, and he's played solid defense on both corner outfield positions. He's a guy we're watching every day. We'll probably take him right down to the wire and make a decision at the end."

Pirela, who came over from the Yankees in a November trade, can also play some second base, if needed. But right now, his biggest weapon is his bat.

Said McGwire of Pirela: "I'm really impressed. Scary hitter."

And McGwire would know a thing or two about scary hitters.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.