Jackson using demotion as motivation

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
2:07
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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CubsAP Photo/Jim PrischingBrett Jackson struck out in 49 percent of his at-bats with the Cubs last season.
MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs have made it clear that outfielder Brett Jackson will start the 2013 season at Triple-A Iowa.

After a less than impressive trial run with the Cubs at the end of the 2012 season, Jackson is using the demotion as motivation.

"Nothing is easy in this game, so I am not the type of person to take the easy way to getting things done," Jackson said. "Regardless whether I had a major league job or not, I will always push myself to be the best player I can be. Right now I am trying to work at showing (Cubs officials ) when spring training comes around I can be a player that can help the team win."

Jackson and second baseman Darwin Barney were invited to Arizona by Cubs manager Dale Sveum to take part in a three-day hitting workshop. The purpose of the mini-camp, which also included hitting coach James Rowson and new assistant hitting coach Rob Deer, was to give some physical instruction and verbal confirmation to the 24-year-old Jackson.

The Cubs' first-round pick in the 2009 June amateur draft, Jackson had difficulty making contact in his first major league stint. He hit .175 and struck out in 49 percent of his at-bats (59 Ks in 120 at-bats) during his late summer trial in Chicago.

The Cubs hope that a return to Triple-A will have the same results for Jackson that it did for first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo failed to handle major league pitching during a stint in San Diego during the 2011 season. The Cubs made a few changes to Rizzo's hitting technique which included lowering his hands and hitting the ball to the opposite field, and he responded with a promising season in 2012 (.285 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs).

"There were some noticeable flaws that I learned about myself this year," Jackson said. "I have been able to work on that in the offseason. You talk about the adjustments that Rizzo made last year and now his swing is completely different and obviously for the better."

The Cubs don't compare the two players but they realize that Jackson must conquer minor league pitching before his next major league attempt.

"I don't mean to compare myself to Rizzo but it is a similar situation," Jackson said. "You try to learn from that, the short number of at-bats in the big leagues. You need to make the adjustment and make something positive of it and return a better player."

The Cubs will look to add a veteran outfielder during the offseason as Jackson and Jorge Soler continue to work their way toward full-time spots with the Cubs.

"For me it is two things," Jackson said. "No. 1 is to believe in myself and the other is believing in your team. When you believe in your team, your goal is not about you. Your goal is about your teammates and winning for the fans. No. 2 makes No. 1 seem easier because it is easier to believe in yourself when you believe in the guys around you."

Jackson plans to return to his native California on Thursday and be back in Mesa for more pre-spring training drills by January.

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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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
2 3.05 16 20
OTHER LEADERS
BAE. Bonifacio .358
HRW. Castillo 3
RBIS. Castro 9
RE. Bonifacio 11
OPSA. Rizzo .914
ERAJ. Samardzija 1.29
SOJ. Samardzija 22