PHOENIX -- Jemile Weeks, knocked off the mountain top last year, says his 2012 season was a fluke and that he's going to make the A's decision on a starter at second base a difficult one.
Weeks was the opening day second baseman last March, when the A's began the season by playing two games against the Seattle Mariners in Japan. By mid-August, he was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento.
"It's very important to me to be the starter again," Weeks said. "The next 35-40 days are a time when I can prove myself, show myself and force the A's hand. It's up to the brass to make the decisions, but I'm going to make it hard on them."
Weeks hit two homers in his first 37 at-bats last season, and there were suggestions that he got focused on power and got away from the strength of his game, which is to slash line drives, use his speed to get on base and serve as a generator for Oakland's offense.
"That's the biggest misconception there is about my season last year," Weeks said. "My idea of baseball is hitting line drives all over the place. That's what my game is. I never got away from that."
The line drives never fell in, however. After hitting .303 as a rookie, Weeks' average peaked at .229 on June 2. He finished at .221 after a three-week stint in August and September in the minor leagues.
When Cactus League games start Saturday, Weeks will "focus on getting my game back."
Weeks will have plenty of company trying to win the job at second base. Scott Sizemore, who was supposed to be the starting third baseman last year, is back at second, which probably is his best defensive position. Jed Lowrie, just acquired from Houston, is a shortstop with power who came into pro ball as a second baseman.
Adam Rosales was a rising star in 2010, when he hit .271 in 80 games. He is trying to come back to relevance. And there is the versatile Eric Sogard.
"It's a big opportunity for Jemile after the sophomore slump or whatever he went through last year," Melvin said. "He's got a lot of talent. He's got a lot of competition at second base, too."
Sizemore lost all of 2012 thanks to a knee injury and is on a mission to become a regular part of the Oakland lineup again.
"It was fun to watch what we did last year; I had the best seat in the house," Sizemore said.
"Well, not at first," Sizemore said. "When you first get injured and then have the surgery and start the rehab, that is the worst. There is no lonelier feeling than that. But it's all in the past. I feel good. I'm ready to go."
Lowrie is part of the equation at shortstop as well as at second base. The difference is that second base is open, while the A's are going to go with Hiroyuki Nakajima at short unless he gives them a reason not to. So Lowrie could slip in as the starter at second, where he was a star at Stanford.
"I prefer shortstop, but I'm comfortable at second," Lowrie said. "Mostly I just want to play."
Melvin is looking forward to the competition at second.
"I see it as a win-win situation." Melvin said. "Weeks could be a weapon. So could Sizemore or Lowrie. You can't count Rosie out. And you can't forget about Sogard."
Now it's up to someone to grab the position and make it his own, and that should be one of the most compelling stories once Cactus League games start Saturday.