Edwin Jackson’s first relief appearance of the season went smoothly and the Cubs right-hander said he was willing to pitch on Saturday. The other relievers have welcomed him.
“It’s cool,” Jackson said Saturday. “I’m like an inbetweener. I still chill with the starters, still chill with the bullpen, still chill with all the pitchers. I’m an inbetweener. I’m a bullpen-starter.”
Jackson began Spring Training vying for a spot in the Cubs rotation but Travis Wood got that job. On Friday, Jackson gave up one hit over two innings against the Rockies in his first relief outing.
“He’s been very professional, and then he gets his chance and does really, really well and that tells you how well he’s processed the whole moment,” manager Joe Maddon said of Jackson. “That speaks well for him and for us.”
Who knows? Jackson could get a spot start and extended innings.
“I just have to be ready for whatever situation arises and just stay in the game,” Jackson said. “That’s all you’re trying to do. Just be ready when the phone rings and your name is called regardless of the situation.”
— Carrie Muskat
Miguel Montero, Junior Lake and Matt Szczur each homered to lead the Cubs to a 7-0 victory Sunday over the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Edwin Jackson gave up one hit and walked one over 4 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three.
The Cubs are trying to decide between Jackson or Travis Wood for the fifth starter spot.
“It’s not going to be judged off one start,” Jackson said of the final decision. “At the end of the day, it’s something I don’t worry about. Like I’ve said from the beginning, all I can do is go out and be myself and see where everything ends up being. At the end of the day, what’s going to happen is going to happen. You don’t need to worry about it. Just go out and pitch your game and let the pieces fall into place.”
Manager Joe Maddon said he expects one pitcher to win the job outright rather than have Jackson and Wood share the job. Nothing has been finalized, Maddon said. The odd man out would likely be the long man in the bullpen.
“We can play the ‘what if’ scenarios,” Jackson said, “but it’s not really something I worry about. All I can do is control what I can control when the ball’s in my hand. At the end of the day, I’m here to help the team win in any way I can.”
— Carrie Muskat
* Manager Joe Maddon is still tinkering with what he wants to do with the batting order. He’s experimented with the pitcher in the No. 8 spot twice (Jason Hammel and Travis Wood), and said he likes having Arismendy Alcantara follow in the No. 9 spot because it’s like having another leadoff batter.
* Javier Baez led off Thursday, the second time he’s done that this spring.
“Part of it is to try to increase his confidence and let him know we support him,” Maddon said.
They’re hoping Baez can focus on hitting the ball up the middle and getting on base.
* Junior Lake moved to the infield Wednesday, and that’s also part of Maddon’s machinations. He doesn’t expect to start Lake at third, but could move him there if needed.
“I like to be able to try to present all the options in advance so they’re not surprised when the actual moment shows up,” Maddon said. “Players like that little bit of heads up.”
* Albert Almora, 20, the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2012, was assigned to Minor League camp Thursday.
“He’s kind of a complete baseball player and really young,” Maddon said. “He’s the kind of kid who you know will be a great teammate. Ego does not get in the way at all. I see him as a fine Major League baseball player.”
* Maddon was not happy that Edwin Jackson arrived late to his game in Mesa on Tuesday and spoke to the pitcher about it in private.
— Carrie Muskat
Apparently, Google Maps hasn’t updated the Spring Training locations in Arizona. On Tuesday, Edwin Jackson used the app for directions to HoHoKam Stadium where he was scheduled to start. Trouble is, it sent him to their old home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
“I put in Google Maps and typed in ‘Oakland Athletics Spring Training complex,’ and it took me to the old one,” Jackson said. “I know it’s crazy, but that pretty much sums it up.”
The Cubs complex and HoHoKam are about 3.6 miles apart, but it was a much longer drive for Jackson, who did arrive at HoHoKam at 12:40 p.m. MT. The Cubs staff didn’t want him to rush for the 1:05 p.m. MT start against the Athletics, so Blake Parker made a substitute start.
Jackson took over in the second, but the A’s seemed to have no problem tracking his pitches, collecting eight runs on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings. Jackson said he could take some positives from the outing — he didn’t walk anyone and he felt strong.
“They hit some good pitches,” Jackson said. “You have those days when they hit the ball. There were a lot of times I was ahead in the count and just didn’t put them away.”
Jackson served up back to back doubles in the A’s second, and retired the first two batters in the third but then Oakland rattled off seven straight hits, including a two-run homer by Stephen Vogt.
What makes Jackson’s misdirection even crazier is that HoHoKam was the Cubs’ old spring home. Google Maps didn’t fail him when he used it March 14 to find Maryvale for a game against the Brewers. In fact, he said it’s the first time in 12 years he’s gotten lost trying to get to a ballpark.
“At the end of the day, it’s my fault for not looking to see where they’re at,” he said. “I figured type in the Spring Training complex and the right address would come up, but it didn’t.
“It was a crazy way to start a day, I guess,” he said. “If I Google any other facility it probably doesn’t happen. So be it. That was the luck of the draw.”
— Carrie Muskat
Blame traffic for Edwin Jackson’s late start. The right-hander did not start Tuesday’s game against the A’s because he got stuck in traffic driving from the Cubs complex to HoHoKam Park. Blake Parker started in place of Jackson.
The Cubs will play two games on Tuesday, beginning with a “B” game at Sloan Park in Mesa against the Diamondbacks. The game is open to the public. Then, Edwin Jackson and the rest of the squad faces the A’s at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Here are the lineups:
* B Game vs Diamondbacks
* Cubs vs. Athletics
Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson are battling for the one opening in the rotation but the Cubs are trying to come up with a creative way to keep both.
“There’s different ways to utilize both of them,” manager Joe Maddon said Friday. “It’s hard to say they’re both starters but we’ve talked about different ways to make it fit.”
Maddon, who met with Theo Epstein to discuss the options, didn’t want to go into details but one possibility could be having Wood or Jackson start, with the other in the bullpen as a long man, depending on the opponent. Then, they could reverse roles.
“I’m in a real listening mode right now,” Maddon said.
On Friday against the White Sox, Wood served up two runs on 11 hits over 4 1/3 innings, striking out two.
— Carrie Muskat
Edwin Jackson scattered four hits over four innings on Thursday, giving up three runs, but only one was earned in his start against the Diamondbacks. The Cubs right-hander, who threw 58 pitches, 38 for strikes, felt the Diamondbacks made adjustments in their second at-bats against him.
“I was able to be aggressive and make them put the ball in play,” he said.
However, an error by shortstop Starlin Castro in the D-Backs fourth contributed to their runs.
Jackson helped himself with a RBI double in the third.
“Sometimes you close your eyes and you get lucky,” Jackson said of his hit.
He started his offseason workout program early, and it seems to have paid off.
“I feel the work I put in the offseason has definitely helped,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I never worked hard in the offseason, but it was a little different this offseason. I feel like I came in the best shape of my life, ready to go.”
And how does he view this edition of the Cubs?
“It’s a young team, full of energy, a lot of life in the clubhouse and that’s where it starts,” he said. “The talent is there. It’s just a matter of everyone going out and having fun and playing loose and letting the game come to you. I definitely feel we have the opportunity to do something special this year.”
— Carrie Muskat
Edwin Jackson gets the start Thursday night against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale at Talking Stick. Here’s the lineup:
E. Jackson P
Will Middlebrooks belted a three-run homer and Yonder Alonso added a solo shot to back Andrew Cashner and lead the Padres to a 6-3 victory Monday over the Cubs, who are still seeking their first Cactus League win. In his second spring start, the Padres’ Andrew Cashner, who was the Cubs’ first-round pick in the 2008 Draft, struck out three and walked one over three innings.
San Diego batted around in the second against Chicago’s Edwin Jackson. Derek Norris reached on a fielding error by shortstop Starlin Castro to start the inning and moved up on Jackson’s throwing error as he fielded Yonder Alonso’s comebacker, but instead of turning a double play, he bounced his throw to Castro covering at second. One out later, Middlebrooks launched a 2-2 pitch to left for his first spring home run and a 3-0 lead. Alexi Amarista added a two-out RBI single.
“It was my fault,” Jackson said of the error. “You get in the game and you get your first hit of real adrenaline and you speed it up a little bit on a play where you have plenty of time to take an extra step and make a good throw to second base.”
Jackson, battling for the fifth starter spot, threw eight pitches in the first, but needed 27 to get through the second. Kyle Hendricks, projected as the fourth starter, had a much cleaner outing, striking out one over two innings. Hendricks isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I don’t really think I know I have a spot,” Hendricks said. “I know what [manager Joe] Maddon has said but I’ve said it before, you never know what can happen. Honestly, I don’t think about that at all. I try to come out here and focus on what I have to do on the mound.”
Mike Olt and Miguel Montero each homered for the Cubs.
* Up next: Travis Wood makes his second spring start on Tuesday when the Cubs travel to Goodyear to face the Indians. First pitch will be 1:05 p.m. MT/3:05 p.m. CT. In his first start, struck out two of the six batters he faced. An All-Star in 2013, Wood is battling for the fifth starter spot in the Cubs rotation.