MESA, Ariz. – Edwin Jackson seems to be keeping his mind in a good place this spring even as he finds it hard to predict the eventual location of his name on a lineup card — or even his address.
Not to mention any given fastball.
“I just worry about what I have control over, and I definitely don’t have control over whether I leave this organization or whether I don’t leave this organization,” the Cubs’ embattled right-hander said Monday after a two-inning spring starting debut that included one perfect inning and one exceptionally imperfect one against the San Diego Padres.
“The only thing I have control over is going out on the field and getting outs. Everything else will take its course.”
Jackson, 31, on the outside of the Cubs’ rotation looking in – a candidate for the lone rotation opening but firmly behind favorite Travis Wood and staring at the possibility of becoming the highest-paid Cubs reliever since Carlos Zambrano in 2010.
Jackson, who’s halfway through a four-year, $52 million contract, finally was bumped to the bullpen last season after spending close to two seasons as statistically the worst starting pitcher in the majors. He likely would have been gone by now if the two years and $22 million left on his contract didn’t make him so hard to trade.
His name already has come up in trade speculation this spring, and that’s almost certain to continue as pitchers in other camps get hurt or the Cubs struggle to find a role for Jackson going into a season they expect to compete.
“Would I like to start? Yes,” he said. “If I don’t start am I going to go around and throw a temper tantrum? No. Because if I don’t start then I’ll feel like it’s something that I didn’t do to allow myself to be in that position.
“It’s a fun time here. It’s a great group of guys. It’s a great organization. And it’d be a lot of fun to be able to come out and win a lot of ballgames with this ballclub.”
Manager Joe Maddon, who has lauded Jackson’s ability and said good things about his experience with the right-hander earlier in his career in Tampa Bay, rattled off his first four starters early in camp: Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and second-year right-hander Kyle Hendricks (who pitched two scoreless innings against the Padres).
On Monday, Jackson pitched a 1-2-3 first inning. But in the second, after the first batter reached on shortstop Starlin Castro’s fielding error, Jackson short-armed a potential double-play bouncer for another error – and the Padres batted around for four unearned runs.
Two batters after his error, Jackson centered a pitch that Will Middlebrooks drove on a line over the left-center field wall.
“I know if I go out and throw like I know I can throw, then I can be just as good as anybody in the game,” said Jackson, insists he’s “not pressing or stressing about a game. …
“Where I stand we’ll see. Time will tell.”