Weeks making a strong first impression

Weeks making a strong first impression

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla -- As first impressions go, Rickie Weeks Jr. is off and running with the Rays so far.

"He's made a great first impression. He's been outstanding," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "You talk about the performance, and it has been tremendous. He's gotten acclimated at first base. He hits the ball really hard, as hard as anybody we have seen and he's shown that multiple times."

Weeks entered Friday's 4-2 loss against the Twins leading the Rays regulars, batting .500 (9-for-18) and he's made every hit count, tying for the team with both three home runs and four doubles.

"So far, so good, but Spring Training is not over," Weeks said. "I'm coming here to try to work hard and perfect my craft and go out here and be a good teammate and have some fun."

The 34-year-old Major-League veteran is swinging a big bat this spring and is feeling comfortable platooning at first base with Logan Morrison, but his manager says his biggest asset has been what he's brought to the clubhouse.

"Just his presence has probably been the most important thing and the way that he has come in," Cash said. [Evan Longoria] and I talked about him [this week], everybody has raved about him, in the clubhouse, in the dugout. His work ethic. He's been a great addition."

An addition who never seems satisfied despite his quick start. Entering his 14th season, Weeks appreciates his opportunity with Tampa Bay at this point in his career.

"A lot of times, especially the way the game is going now, they're trying to, you know, weed the older guys out of the game I guess, but you know for the most part [I'm trying] to keep my body in good shape and just stay ready I guess," Weeks said.

Weeks' preparation has paid off and the way he preps for every game has opened many eyes.

"It's pretty impressive to watch him take a round of batting practice. A lot of people take batting practice, it's a loose environment -- Rickie kind of stands off to the side and that's his time to work," Cash said. "Anytime he's on that field he is working. That's not to take away from the other guys that go about it maybe differently. His BP, is kind of like the no-fun zone, he's getting ready for the season."

Worth Noting

• With his homer against Minnesota, Rays outfielder Jake Bauers now equals fellow prospect Casey Gillaspie's totals this spring as both have three home runs to go along with eight RBIs each.

"Him and Gillaspie both, it's pretty remarkable the Spring Trainings their having and not getting the consistent at-bats, but when they do get the at-bats they're making them count," Cash said. "Both of those guys have been fun to watch."

• The Rays are still in search of a permanent leadoff man where Cash will continue to tinker with his lineup.

"I don't think that we have as it stands right now, a defined leadoff guy," Cash said. "We're still trying to work through, 'do we have a guy [versus] left, a guy [versus] right.' I know a lot of [players] probably don't like that, but they'll deal with it."

Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Rays on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.