MESA, Ariz. — Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson doesn’t exactly get the benefit of the doubt with management after recording a league-leading 18 losses, 4.94 ERA and his lowest innings total in six seasons.
Never mind that he’s the highest-paid player on the team, manager Rick Renteria plans to have a “conversation” with Jackson after the right-hander caught the staff off-guard by throwing nothing but fastballs in a command-challenged, three-inning start Friday.
How surprised was Renteria?
“Well, I saw a lot of fastballs being thrown,” he said, “and I’ll just say that I noticed it.”
Renteria speculated that Jackson might have taken the extreme approach to work on the fastball command Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio stress — though he noted the command wasn’t very good.
Jackson fell behind the first two batters, who singled and homered, respectively. He also hit two batters.
“I think you have to kind of allow some flexibility, I guess, in what he’s trying to do,” Renteria said. “In his mind’s eye, he had a particular idea of what he wanted to do, so he tried to go ahead and do it. He did it for three innings.”
At least there wasn’t a dugout altercation with the manager this time around (like Jackson had with then-manager Dale Sveum in Milwaukee last September over being taken out of a game).
But Renteria plans to address it.
“It’s something where I’ll probably talk to him and have a conversation about it and clarify what the process was,” Renteria said. “That doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt anybody to just talk about it.”
Jackson made the decision sound like a last-minute idea.
“It’s nothing that I’d been planning on during the week. It was one of those things where we came out and I said, I’m going to throw all fastballs today and we’ll see how it turns out,” he said.
“Learning to pitch off the fastball, you kind of have to get through it, and sometimes when you know you have those other [pitches] in your back pocket, it just makes you lose your aggressiveness with the fastball. So today I really wasn’t worried about results. I really wasn’t worried about runs. It was just to see where I was with just throwing all fastballs and see what happens, stay aggressive on hitters and make them hit the ball.”