Monday, March 12, 2012
Jackson impresses with more than power
By Doug Padilla
MESA, Ariz. -- Brett Jackson couldn't have planned a better camp if he tried, especially with a new manager and front office tracking his every move.
Brett Jackson has three hits in his first nine spring at-bats, including a home run.
The 2009 first-round draft pick gets more of a chance to show what he can do Monday as he will start in right field and lead off against the Cincinnati Reds' Bronson Arroyo.
"No mission is accomplished, but I'm pleased with the way I have been going about my business and playing," Jackson said before Monday's game. "I'm pleased with how my swing is coming along and how I feel at the plate, and that's all I can ask for. I'll keep working toward that every day and mission accomplished is something off in the distance for everybody."
Jackson not only has three hits (including a home run) in his first nine Cactus League at-bats, he also had a pair of home runs in an intrasquad game before statistics were being compiled. But it's not necessarily the home runs that the Cubs' coaching staff is happy to see.
Manager Dale Sveum raved about the single he hit to right-center field in the eighth inning against the Dodgers on Sunday.
"Yesterday was a great at-bat off the left-hander and then the guy dropped down on him with two strikes, and he stayed with it and hit a line drive," Sveum said. "Defense and the arm, it's just a nice piece of our puzzle that's waiting in the wings to get to the major-league level and probably will end up staying here for a long time."
Jackson is still expected to start the season at Triple-A, but his goal of being an everyday player in the big leagues could come as early as the middle of the season if injuries open a spot or the Cubs find a taker on the trade market for Marlon Byrd.
But simply reaching the Wrigley Field outfield isn't his goal. He plans on setting anchor.
"I'd like to say that I'm a guy that will keep on pushing," Jackson said. "That's how I have been my whole life. I've had bigger goals beyond just getting to the big leagues, and I'm confident in the fact that I'm going to be there. I'm confident in the fact that Chicago will do some really special things in the next few years, and I'm really excited to be a part of that."
While he has continued to fine-tune his swing, Jackson believes he has made big strides on defense with new outfield coach Dave McKay. Jackson says he already has noticed that he is starting to get into proper position while tracking down balls in the outfield without having to think about it. The more things that become second nature about his game the better.
"He's having a nice camp," Sveum said. "He's doing kind of what we expected. He has the power, the speed."
Jackson has indeed been showing off all five of his tools, all while managing that delicate balance of having the time of his life while also keeping his head down to reach his goals.
"Oh man, baseball's fun; are you kidding me?" Jackson said. "I'm definitely having a blast, but that doesn't go without staying focused and working hard. I'm definitely having fun. It's a great group of guys, and I love playing for these coaches. It's been a great few weeks so far."