Jemile Weeks is man of many gloves

JUPITER, Fla. – Jemile Weeks had never played third base in his life before Sunday. He’d played shortstop in high school and second base in college, and he’d played almost exclusively second base since he was drafted. His appearances at shortstop and in the outfield both in the minor leagues and majors amounted merely to cameos.

But when Red Sox prospect Sean Coyle took a ground ball off the face in batting practice on Sunday, a contusion that required three stitches, Weeks was notified just before the game that he’d be starting – and playing almost the entire game – at a brand-new position. He looked a little bit hesitant early in the game, as might be expected, but he started a double play in the seventh inning.

“The visuals have to be quicker,” he said. “There’s less movement than at shortstop. What you have to do is set your eyes early. At short, you have more momentum going to the ball, so it’s more of a set position at third. It can be different because you’re used to the movement, but once you knock that out and focus on seeing the ball, you can make it work.”

The No. 12 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Weeks saw his career stall after a rough season with the Oakland Athletics in 2012. He’s come to the plate just 54 times in the major leagues in the two seasons since, instead spending the last two seasons with the Triple-A affiliates of Oakland and Baltimore, respectively. He came over to the Red Sox in an August trade for Kelly Johnson and wound up playing a handful of games in the middle infield after Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt went on the shelf.

In Weeks, the Red Sox saw a potential reserve at second base, shortstop and center field with an advanced plate approach, as evidenced by a minor-league career that has seen him compile almost as many walks (241) as strikeouts (282). With Triple-A Norfolk last season, he drew 37 walks while striking out 30 times in more than 250 plate appearances.

Third base never was supposed to be on the table – but Weeks was never going to turn down a chance to make an impression at another position, not in an organization with a history of utilizing versatile utilitymen.

A year ago, it was Holt who emerged out of nowhere into a key contributor, playing seven different positions and spending the entire summer hitting leadoff. Two years before that, it was Pedro Ciriaco who wound up playing more than 75 games thanks to his ability to fill in almost anywhere on the field.

“They told me to be prepared for more of a superutility type of role – mostly in the middle infield,” he said. “I never heard too much about third base, but I’ve been getting my work in over there just in case. Every now and then, I stop over there.”

“He’s doing everything we’ve asked,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s swinging the bat well. He’s running the bases aggressively and making good decisions. He’s an interesting guy because of the versatility and the overall athleticism.”

Whatever it takes to stick – or to be in line for a callup if a need arises – is what Weeks wants to do.

“This is a championship team, in my opinion,” he said, “so I’m OK with my role. I’m just here to be able to show people what I believe can be done. I feel I can help any team – and especially this team right here – in whatever role I need to play.”

Hurlers shine: Wade Miley issued two walks and allowed three hits but navigated through three scoreless innings in a 3-0 win for the Red Sox over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday at Roger Dean Stadium.

“I think I hung maybe one breaking ball a little high today,” he said. “For the most part, my changeup was where I wanted it to be. I didn’t throw any curveballs. The slider, it was pretty much there.”

Matt Barnes closed out the win with three strikeouts in two scoreless innings against the St. Louis reserves. He touched 97 on the radar gun, another outing that hinted at the impact he could have as a major-league reliever either out of the gate or later this season.

“How can you not like the stuff?” Farrell said. “It’s premium stuff that he’s shown in two outings. He got his first taste of pitching out of the bullpen last September. That’s not to say we’re looking to change his role and how we view him. We’ll take it as it comes right now.”

A Luke Montz double scored prospect Sam Travis with the go-ahead run in the win. Mookie Betts singled home Weeks with an insurance run later in the inning.

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