Jemile Weeks went on a journey. For a while on Wednesday, this seemed important because the journey was to New York, where he was expected to join the Orioles. In the end, absolutely nothing changed and he ended up right back where he started: Norfolk. He is playing in a game there as I am writing this post, a 12:05pm start time on a Thursday. The minor leagues are a strange place. Was his journey meaningless?
If you follow a baseball team day in and day out at what may be a slightly unhealthy level (it's OK, I do too), you see these ultimately pointless stories from time to time, where everyone gets worked up about something that doesn't end up happening. In the offseason, this involves signing rumors or trade rumors, but sometimes you will find them during the season as well.
A couple of seasons ago, the beat writers treated it as inevitable that the Orioles would call up Jamie Moyer. That never happened. All words written on the subject were rendered pointless. But it seemed really important at the time. How the Orioles do is important, therefore, anyone who is or might in the future be on the Orioles is important.
Following Tuesday afternoon's game in New York, manager Buck Showalter informed the beat reporters that the team would be making a roster move, with a player heading to the disabled list and someone being called up from Norfolk. This was out of nowhere. Mysteries always seem important. Who would be coming up? Who would be hitting the DL? No one knew. That was exciting.
The first person to clue in the world held in thrall by this mysterious happening was in Norfolk:
You may have never thought about David Hall before. You may forget about him by tomorrow. I will. He covers the Tides. In this case, he was the only person to put out there what was going on.
Why Weeks? That was the next question to puzzle over. The Orioles have enough middle infielders already, unless it was going to be J.J. Hardy going to the DL. He told reporters it wasn't him. Well, okay then. There were no known injuries and yet someone was injured enough to be placed on the disabled list. That must be bad! Eventually, the group of people whose job it is to report on the Orioles discovered that David Lough was the injured player.
The nature of the injury was unclear. It had the air of a Duquettesque phantom DL move, because Lough has not looked good to start the season. Maybe it was the sucks. Tuesday night, there was no word about what it was, only that he would be off the roster and Weeks would be on it.
On Wednesday afternoon, with the Orioles finally playing a night game, Weeks arrived in the clubhouse. Not only had he arrived, he literally was using the locker that was previously Lough's:
Weeks is here, but Lough's locker plate has been removed. #orioles— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 9, 2014
Lough was nowhere to be seen. None of the reporters knew where he was initially. It seemed like it must be a certainty that Weeks would be getting a call-up. The Orioles waited a long time to unveil their lineup card, adding to the mystery. What could they possibly be waiting on?
As it turned out, they were waiting on Lough, who had gone to Baltimore to see a doctor. No one reported he was in Baltimore until he was already on the way back. Showalter revealed in his pre-game comments to reporters that the same concussion-like symptoms that dogged Lough towards the end of spring training had been continuing. Showalter said he only found out on Tuesday.
In the spring, they ruled out a concussion. With the symptoms recurring, they wanted to have him checked out again. Showalter said a concussion had been ruled out, but he still seemed concerned by the symptoms, just not so much to have Lough go on the disabled list. Lough played in the bottom of the ninth inning in left field in Wednesday's game. I guess he was OK enough for that. He did not have to make any plays.
So where did that leave Weeks? Gazing pensively at a dream that was just out of his grasp:
Weeks has been in the big leagues before and will probably be in the big leagues again. This wasn't his only shot at the show that will forever go tragically unfulfilled. If Hardy's back doesn't heal - he's been said to be ready to play tomorrow for four days - Weeks may find himself right back with the Orioles. If Lough's symptoms don't clear up, or if Jonathan Schoop or Ryan Flaherty don't start to turn it around at the plate, Weeks, who's already on the 40-man, could be back before long, actually added to the roster next time.
In an interesting coincidence, as Weeks went on this particular journey, the man he was traded for, $10 million closer Jim Johnson, had another bad day in Oakland. He has pitched 3.1 innings in this young season and surrendered seven earned runs. As of Thursday, he is no longer the closer. Perhaps their fates are inextricably linked by the trade. Probably not, though. It's just one brief moment where something resembling a pattern appears in a chaotic universe.
There are those who say that the journey is more important than the destination, but what are you supposed to do with a one-day journey where you've gotten your hopes up that it'll be more, and you end up getting sent right back where you started? That was the journey of Jemile Weeks on Tuesday and Wednesday. It meant nothing in the end, but for a little while it meant something. You can't ask for much more than that.