The departure of a 5-foot-11, 275-pound first baseman would seemingly shake up the clubhouse of many Major League Baseball teams. Or perhaps it would have less of an effect than you might think. That’s what Rickie Weeks is saying as camp winds down for the Milwaukee Brewers, who will compete for the first time in years without Prince Fielder. Weeks says the clubhouse still feels the same to him, a close-knit group of guys that seem to carry that over onto the field.
The Brewers have added guys like Aramis Ramirez to the mix and hope that prospect Mat Gamel will step up now that’s he’s got a full-time opportunity. Rickie Weeks joined WSSP in Milwaukee with Tim Allen to discuss his spot in the batting order, the life of a leadoff hitter, being an All Star last year, if the team feels any different this year without Prince Fielder, the energy of Nyjer Morgan and some experts picking the team to finish third in the division.
Are things settled in on where you’ll bat in the order?:
“I guess you’re never really settled in. Whatever the team wants you, you’ve got to go there. The older you get, the more time you have, I guess you have a little more say to it, but for the most part you always want to see what’s best for the team.”
But you seem to like being at the top of the lineup where there’s more action:
“Yeah, the first half of the lineup, there’s always a sense of right now. You get on base and try to make something happen and score runs. I am pretty comfortable with where I’m at right now. That’s all that matters.”
Is there anything left to accomplish besides winning a ring?:
“You really can’t count on accolades like [an All-Star appearance]. Obviously you put in the time, put in the work to help your team win and hopefully get that shot at the All-Star game. But a lot of people think that everybody gets a chance to be an All-Star. I was able to get that done, but with all personal accolades aside, the team is what you want. The team, you want a ring. That’s what we’re pushing for.”
Does this team just feel a little bit different this year?:
“It’s the same, I think. We’re minus some faces — LaTroy Hawkins, Prince Fielder, [Takashi] Saito, guys like that. But I think pretty much the core is still here. The whole adage is the clubhouse first. Everybody gets along here pretty well. It’s a great clubhouse. From there we’ve got to move on out to the field and put some good baseball in front of us.”
On the energy of outfielder Nyjer Morgan:
“That’s just the way it is around here. Nyjer, he does a great job of bringing some entertainment, I guess, to the team right now. But he’s a guy who works hard though. He comes out here, puts his work in and helps his team win in any way possible.”
Some experts are picking you guys to finish third in the National League Central. Does that motivate you?:
“No, all I know is that we’re National League Central defending champions. You can’t look past that. They’ve been wrong years in a row. Things happen. It’s up to us to go out there and do our job and play our baseball and I have a very good feeling if we do that that we’ll come out on top.