INDIANAPOLIS — He’s not sure the last time he played first base, if ever, but Erich Weiss finds himself at that position now.
At least on an occasional basis.
Weiss made his first professional appearance at first base in Indianapolis’ previous series against Gwinnett, and made his first career start at the position one day later.
How much Weiss will play first base remains unclear. Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said the position addition is designed to give Weiss more playing time in what is becoming a crowded infield, but did not give specifics on how frequently Weiss would play there.
Kevin Newman was recently promoted and is the new everyday shortstop, which moves Gift Ngoepe into playing a mix of second base and third base, along with some shortstop if Newman is out of the lineup.
That means Weiss, who has played second and third this year, now will see some time at first base along with Eric Wood and Joey Terdoslavich. Add in Phil Gosselin and the infield is crowded, and that would be if the team only used super utility player Christopher Bostick in the outfield.
“(Coaches/management) had some conversations with their future plans with me and how to get me in some more games,” Weiss said. “They just said expanding to first base would allow me to get in there a little more. … Didn’t say how often, just said that might be in the tool box until the end of the year.”
He doesn’t have much experience at first base, if any, during his life. Weiss had never played first base as a professional, from regular season games to Spring Training to fall instructional leagues prior to last week.
Weiss never played there at the University of Texas, nor when he was a high school player in Texas. He might have played the position during a high school summer league game, but he wasn’t sure. While just a few feet away from his natural second base position, Weiss is having to familiarize himself with the simple nuances of first base.
“Just remembering that even though the ball is not hit to you, you still have to still go to first base to catch the ball,” Weiss said with a laugh.
Other than that, it’s a matter of learning the pickoffs at first, knowing when and where to be the cutoff man or trailing a runner to second on a double. He’s worked on making picks quite a bit during his career, mainly for throws to second on stolen base attempts. Weiss hasn’t had to make a pick at first base yet, but is confident he can handle those plays.
“I’ve worked on my picks my whole life,” Weiss said. “All of that work has paid off to be able to pick a little bit.”
Weiss is hitting .333 over his last 10 games and has a slash line of .276/.343/.404 this season with Indianapolis. Coaches have labeled Weiss as having a “major league” swing, which is a main reason to find ways to keep the 25-year-old in the lineup.
“No doubt, everybody likes his bat,” Barkett said. “There’s a lot of potential in there. The swing works very well. I think a year from now you’re going to see a much more improved, experienced Erich Weiss.
Luplow gets a scare, but should be OK
Jordan Luplow was hit in the hand by a fastball at Gwinnett on Sunday and was immediately removed from the game. He had an x-ray on the hand, which did not show any type of break or significant injury.
“We just have to see how it feels day by day,” Luplow said. “Hopefully be back out there tomorrow or in a couple of days.”
Luplow is hitting .394 over his last 10 games and .343 since being promoted to Indianapolis on June 30. He has 21 homers between his time with Double-A Altoona and Indianapolis.
And his initial thought after being hit with the pitch wasn’t good, though trainer Dru Scott tempered those concerns.
“It definitely didn’t feel good, that’s for sure,” Luplow said. “It swelled up pretty quick and it made me pretty nervous. … Dru did a good job of calming me down and he’s done these things before. … It’s just him helping me out with that and reassuring me that it was going to be OK.”
Luplow wasn’t sure if he would wear anything to protect his hand moving forward.
“I’m not sure. I’ll have to look into that,” Luplow said. “I’m sure they make something for that, they make everything these days.”
Newman racking up hits
Sure, it’s a miniscule sample size, but Triple-A newcomer Kevin Newman is having some success at the plate, which is better than struggling through a small sample size.
Newman went 2-for-4 against Rochester on Monday. He’s hitting .348 through five games with Indianapolis and has three multi-hit games.