Jackson Hopes To Change Cubs' Plans
MESA, ARIZ.—Theo Epstein doesn't want to shortcut anyone's development. He signed David DeJesus in part so that top prospect Brett Jackson could play another 100 games or so in Triple-A. The Cubs want him to be fully prepared when he moves into the everyday lineup at Wrigley Field.
Jackson has other ideas.
"I'm not going to make the team today, but every day is a piece to the puzzle," Jackson said early in spring training. "I'm going to keep working every day until the day comes, and when it comes, I'm going to keep working there."
A first-round pick in 2009 out of California, Jackson offers such a complete package that he's been compared to Jim Edmonds. He can play all three outfield positions and combines power with speed.
Jackson was one of the Cubs' hottest hitters in the first week of spring games, but barring an injury or a trade he is likely headed back to Triple-A Iowa, where he played the last 48 games of a 2011 season that started with his return to Double-A Tennesee.
While Jackson hit .297/.388/.551 in 185 at-bats with Iowa, he is blocked by Marlon Byrd in center, Alfonso Soriano in left and DeJesus in right. The Cubs re-signed Reed Johnson to serve as the fourth outfielder. There doesn't seem to be room for Jackson.
"I don't think you're ever going to have a kid like that not play," manager Dale Sveum said. "He hasn't played a full year in Triple-A. He's either going to make the team and play every day, or he's going to be in Triple-A."
When Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefthanded hitter, belted a home run off the Rockies' Guillermo Moscoso on March 6, it was his third in five days, including two off lefties in intrasquad games.
"We've all been around long enough to know when kids like that, guys that are pretty special players with speed, power, arm—the five-tool players—are ready to play," Sveum said. "They make (for) some tough decisions down the stretch too. He's that kind of guy."
• The Cubs are not planning a position change for shortstop Junior Lake, even though he's blocked by Starlin Castro. The Cubs believe Lake moves well enough to play the middle infield but are concerned about his fielding.
• Infielder Adrian Cardenas, claimed on waivers from the A's, had his chances to earn a roster spot hurt by Sveum's plan to use second baseman Darwin Barney as the backup to Castro. That means Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt will likely be the extra infielders.