Cubs accepting of Jackson's struggles

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
7:34
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The recent struggles of rookie outfielder Brett Jackson has the full attention of Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

[+] EnlargeBrett Jackson
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireBrett Jackson had 14 strikeouts in his first 24 at-bats with the Cubs.
Part of the rebuilding of the organization is the parade of farm system hopefuls making their way to the big leagues. Jackson, originally chosen in the first round of the 2009 draft, has had problems with striking out at Triple-A and his brief stint in the major leagues.

“There is a long line of great players including Hall of Famers (Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays) that went 1-for-55 in the big leagues,” Epstein said Tuesday. “We almost expect young guys to come up and struggle. That is part of the growth process. It doesn’t make it any easier to go through, but it is a natural step in the player’s development.”

Jackson has been under the microscope with 14 strikeouts in his first 24 at-bats and looking overmatched at this early point of his major league career. After going 2 for 4 in his debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 5, Jackson is 1 for 20 since.

“This game is all about adjustments,” Epstein said. “You come up and get humbled a little bit. You make your adjustments and then maybe you can humble someone else down the line.”

The Cubs knew there was a risk bringing Jackson up after he had struck out 43 percent of the time at Iowa. The Cubs believed he grew as an outfielder and as a baserunner during his time at Triple-A. They believed the major league coaches could help him solve some of the mechanical flaws that have contributed to the rash of strikeouts.

”It is not about seeing the baseball. It is about what happens with your head,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I call it ‘lazy head.’ The last point of contact before you hit the ball is where you leave your head and your head never drops down if you can imagine some of the great (swings ). If you watch some of the great hitters like Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter, you watch their heads, they drive down and their nose gets much closer to the baseball than when it started.”

Epstein and Sveum are concerned about Jackson, and have discussed the matter at length.

“The confidence is what it is and sometimes to survive you have to hit rock bottom and get back up,” Sveum said of Jackson, who batted seventh against the Houston Astros on Tuesday. “This game is full of adversity and the guys who usually make it are able to handle it and make adjustments.”

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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