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Weeks plays 'getting to know you'

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Associated Press
March 29, 2012
— After adjusting to a new double play partner for each of the past three springs, Rickie Weeks is trying to get used to a whole new infield this season.

In addition to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, the Milwaukee Brewers' second baseman will be playing with former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez and longtime prospect Mat Gamel at first.


"Because these guys are veterans, probably two three weeks playing together and they'll feel pretty good," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think all the drills and the things we do are with that idea of getting guys used to each other. More importantly Alex and Rickie getting together because they are going to be dealing with each other most of the time."


Weeks, who is entering his ninth season, believes it can happen, too.


"We're all professionals," he said. "The biggest thing is getting everybody ready in spring training. We've got to get our work done and see what's good for each other."


Ramirez, a 14-year veteran, made 14 errors in 143 starts for the Chicago Cubs. Gonzalez, a 13-year-pro, had 12 errors at shortstop for the Atlanta Braves. Both were signed as free agents.


"He's a plus defender," Roenicke said. "He's always been a plus defender. He's a smart player. He knows where to position himself. He's got range. He's got very good hands and he's got a nice arm."


Ramirez has taken a positive approach to the challenge.


"We've got six weeks to work together and get it done," he said. "We've all been around for a little while. We should be able to adjust to each other sooner rather than later."


Gamel is a converted third baseman, made 17 errors in 101 starts at first and batted .310 with 28 homers and 96 RBIs at Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers, hoping he can duplicate that success, gave him Prince Fielder's position to lose.


"It's going to help him as long as he doesn't put pressure on himself," Roenicke said, adding that young first baseman will not be on a short leash once the regular season starts.


"He's going to have an opportunity. The workload, I know he's already put into it. He continues to get better all the time out here, especially defensively."


Gamel, drafted in 2005 as a third baseman and outfielder, has had four stints with the big club. He's made just two starts at first, both in 2011. The Brewers moved Gamel to first in anticipation of Fielder's departure.


Heading into the last full week of spring training, the new infield has shown some pop at the plate, too.


Gonzalez was batting .400 (14 for 35) with two home runs and seven RBIs. Ramirez, expected to be the cleanup hitter, started the spring 0 for 12, but then went 8 for 20.


Weeks, the projected leadoff hitter, was batting .300 (9 for 30) with a .512 on-base percentage, aided by a team-leading 11 walks. Nineteen games into spring training, Gamel was hitting .346 with three homers and seven runs driven in.



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