SEATTLE -- Exact calculations have Jemile Weeks on pace to hit 40 1/2 home runs this season.
"You always round up," a neighboring teammate said in the A's clubhouse, smiling.
Either way, that's a large number for the small-statured Weeks. And while it reflects a small sample size -- he has two home runs in the first nine games -- it also showcases a different aspect of the second baseman's game that wasn't on display much last season.
Weeks went without a home run in the first 90 games of his rookie season, but has since tallied four in the past 16 games, dating back to last year.
"He's feeling more confident in driving the ball," manager Bob Melvin said. "Last year, it didn't seem like he was ever going to hit a home run -- nor was he ever trying to hit a home run, nor was he ever hitting balls hard enough to hit a home run. Now, you're seeing a more confident guy that's learning himself at the plate, learning his swing, and he's driving the ball. He'll hit his share of home runs."
Not necessarily ever intentionally, though.
"I'm not trying to hit home runs at any point," Weeks said. "I'm just trying to put a good swing on the ball and hit it hard. I think it's just when you get a chance to center a ball up as much as possible and know how to use your body type to generate the most out of each swing. I think, just the way I've learned how to swing, when I catch a ball good and I meet it well, the way I've taught myself to swing, it can produce that every now and then."
Despite having already hit two long balls this year -- tied with Jonny Gomes for most among any A's player not named Yoenis Cespedes -- Weeks ended Saturday batting just .211, with a dismal .268 on-base percentage.
"His game, for the most part, is going to be as a table-setter," Melvin said. "He is a strong kid, and you're going to see him drive some balls. But for a guy like him, you can overdo it just a little bit, and I'm not saying he's doing that right now. He's also getting some tough luck. He feels good at the plate. The average, at this point, may not show it, but I think he's doing a nice job and he'll continue to do what he does at the top of the lineup. You're just not seeing the hits you would normally expect out of him at this point, but they'll pick up."
Melvin: Not worried about Cespedes' strikeouts
SEATTLE -- Mention Yoenis Cespedes' Major-League leading 13 strikeouts to Bob Melvin, and the A's manager will fire back with other numbers.
"He's also on base over .350, he's also slugging [nearly] .700, he's also had to face Felix [Hernandez] three times, he also has three home runs and leads the team in RBIs," Melvin said, quickly. "He's been on base six other times via walk and hit by pitch. If that's a struggle, there's no way to go but up -- and up is going to be pretty good."
So he's not worried about the strikeout total?
"I'm not that worried," Melvin said. "The times, obviously, you would like to see him not strike out is with a man on third and less than two outs. But, again, I think he's on a nice pace right now -- especially for a guy that has a big learning curve."
Friday marked the first time this season Cespedes did not reach base, and he has gone down on strikes at least once in each of his first eight games. But the swing-and-misses don't appear to be fazing him much.
"A lot of guys, if they get two or three strikeouts, they get defensive and their confidence goes down," Melvin said. "You definitely don't see that from him. He's still letting it go, he's still tenacious in every at-bat, and he still feels like every time he goes up there he's going to do something good. We feel the same way on the bench, so we need more time to figure out whether he's striking out too much. But he's not scared, definitely not scared."