After getting called up over the weekend and making his debut Sunday in Los Angeles, Jackson has struck out eight times in 11 at-bats. His strikeout rate not only went up at Triple-A Iowa this season, it has shot through the roof now that he has reached the major leagues.
“I’m certainly working and it’s going to be kind of a work in progress,” Jackson said. “Fortunately I’m really comfortable with my swing at the plate and I have the skills to be able to work while I’m playing and hopefully improve as time goes on.”
The left-handed hitting Jackson was back in the starting lineup Thursday after getting a day off Wednesday against San Diego Padres left-hander Clayton Richard. But instead of hitting from the top of the order as he did in his first three games, he was dropped to the No. 7 spot against the Cincinnati Reds.
“It’s just the way this lineup is here, and their bullpen [with] two big-time left-handed relievers,” Sveum said. “It kind of just shakes up the top of the order anyway to where they just can throw those guys out there for an inning or four outs or whatever. [Darwin] Barney's been doing pretty good [in the No. 2 spot] so we’re just kind of mixing it up there even though we’ll still let him run in that spot.”
He can’t run, though, unless he’s on base. And he’s not getting on base if he’s striking out so much. Fixing Jackson’s problems of poor pitch recognition might not be so simple.
“Mechanical things are usually easier to fix there’s no question because you can make that adjustment,” Sveum said. “I think a lot of it is anxiety levels for certain people to get to a certain level when they have two strikes on them. That’s what we need to be conscious of more than anything, as much as tinkering and doing so many mechanical things.”
Sveum has noted, and mentioned again Thursday, that when Jackson struck out in all four trips to the plate Monday in San Diego, he failed to commit to a plan.
“He had probably five different hand positions and three different postures in four at-bats,” Sveum said. “Those are the things we have to get a grip on and make sure we’re not getting so mechanical that you are thinking about everything else other than hitting a baseball.”
Jackson had mixed feelings about sitting out Wednesday, but ultimately he knows it was for the best.
“Rest is always nice for the body but not always best when you are an everyday player because you want to be in there,” Jackson said. “It was good for me physically. I played in about 20 games straight with the minor-league schedule too, and that whirlwind of coming to L.A. and going to San Diego beat me up a little bit but in a great way. [Wednesday] was a little refresher and it’s right back to work today and I’m excited to be in the lineup.”
It’s not only being in the lineup again that had Jackson excited, but it was the chance to play in front of Cubs fans in a real game that had him psyched. Despite his high strikeout totals at Triple-A Iowa, many in the Cubs faithful have been anxious to see Jackson’s arrival.
“I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Cubs fans and what I know, Cubs fans are the best in baseball,” Jackson said. “Them wanting me here is obviously encouraging and makes me appreciate my situation and makes me want to win that much more and play that much harder. I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”