MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson shook off “fastball-gate” on Wednesday, saying he was just trying to work on that particular pitch in his last spring start against the Cleveland Indians.
Jackson, who threw 74 pitches over five innings against Cubs’ minor leaguers on Wednesday morning, was miffed that such a big deal was made about him throwing only fastballs that day.
“I got tired being asked about it,” Jackson said Wednesday afternoon. “[Eric] Gagne would go through a whole spring training throwing changeups. He would throw like two fastballs.”
Jackson insists he conveyed his plan to pitching coach Chris Bosio.
“I told him before the game,” Jackson explained. “I don’t know if they thought I was for real.”
The situation was exasperated by Cubs manager Rick Renteria’s insistence that he would talk to Jackson about the strategy, acknowledging he didn’t know that was his plan. Renteria backed off any concerns over the matter on Wednesday.
“He threw three [different] pitches today,” Renteria said. “He was doing what he wanted to do: work on his fastball command. He had a purpose and reason for doing what he was doing.”
Maybe the focus on such a small item in spring gets magnified for a pitcher who went 8-18 last season and is the only major free-agent acquisition in Theo Epstein’s reign as team president. Jackson has three years left on a four-year, $52 million deal he signed two winters ago.
Either way, Jackson says it was a non-issue.
“It was just a fastball day,” he said. “Get back to trusting the fastball. I still threw four-seamers, two-seamers, cutters, so it wasn’t all just one pitch.”
Jackson confirmed he threw off-speed pitches in his start against Cubs minor leaguers on Wednesday. With an off day on Thursday, the Cubs wanted Jackson to stay on schedule.
“It was just for one game,” Jackson said of his fastball-filled outing.