Jackson Takes Hit-First Approach

Glove man looks to prove he can hit





ST. LOUIS—Whatever bounce in confidence shortstop Ryan Jackson got from his .360 average during his sophomore year at Miami snapped back quickly with one humbling turn in the Cape Cod League.

"I struggled," he said. "I knew I had to get better offensively. That triggered the working on my offensive game, because I had to have it to get anywhere."

Defense has never been a question for Jackson, a fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft whom the Cardinals immediately touted as one of the better gloves in the system.  

Nimble and instinctive in the field, Jackson has the arm and consistency to stick at short. One manager describing Jackson's nose for the play said he is sometimes moving in the direction of a grounder or foul popup as contact is made. During a few cameos with the major league club during spring training, Jackson flashed his glove with a few tricky plays he turned routine.

The questions about the bat remain.

"It was like going back to the drawing board, erasing and starting over every time up," Jackson said of his approach at the plate. "I didn't know what made me successful or what didn't the next. Instead of that now, there's a structure, a plan."

A self-professed ballpark rat, Jackson said it took a village to give him that plan. Hitting coach Derrick May urged some changes; former Miami player and current Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay offered insight on adjusting at higher levels. Jackson displayed a tamer, more balanced swing that didn't ignore the opposite side of the field during spring training. His reward was an assignment to Double-A Springfield.
He was hitting .302/.393/.427 with 21 strikeouts, 15 walks and nine doubles in 96 at-bats.

"For me to not use the opposite field is going against what makes me successful," Jackson said. "Now I've got a good idea what's going to make me successful."

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• Outfielder Shane Robinson, who sustained facial fractures during a collision with a teammate in the outfield, had surgery in late April to repair his orbital bone. The Cardinals are optimistic that he will not miss the rest of the season.

• Top relief prospect Eduardo Sanchez got his first big league save and major league win in consecutive games.