GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox signed outfielder Austin Jackson to a one-year, $5 million contract on Sunday. Here’s what general manager Rick Hahn had to say about it:
“In general, with regard to Austin, we have improved both our depth and our versatility, provided Robin with another opportunity to play matchups whether it’s from an offensive or defensive standpoint and we think we are a better tonight than we were this morning.
Q. What does this mean for Avisail Garcia, Adam LaRoche et al?
A. “You know, at this point, nothing has been promised to anybody. Obviously, as you’ve heard us say time and again, you’ve heard from Robin, when it comes to making out the lineup, Robin’s mission simply is to put the best team out there on any given night that’s going to put us in the best position to win.
“We need not worry about contracts or pedigree or a player’s history with us. It’s about getting the right guys in the right position to win that night’s ballgame. We still with Avi Garcia being 24 years old and with a world of talent, we still believe he’s going to be able to convert on that talent and expect him to have opportunity to blossom into the player many people feel he can become.
“The move with Jackson provides us with another alternative to have in the outfield, whether it’s because of under-performance or injury to any of the outfielders or at the DH spot. We simply felt this was a move that gave us more versatility and depth and improved us overall.”
Q. Was Adam Eaton’s shoulder a factor in signing Jackson?
A. “I wouldn’t say that at all. It certainly is one of the potential elements that this would help insulate us against. As I mentioned the injury to any of the players in the outfield or the DH spot or the under-performance of any of those players at any of those spots. We expect Adam to be fully recovered and without restrictions by Opening Day.
“Nothing has changed with that time frame. At this point in fact, it’s probably not even right to say fully recovered. He’s on a throwing program focused on building strength. The area of repair has fully healed. It’s a matter of getting his arm strength back to the level it needs to be and we expect him to be ready come Opening Day.”
Q. Where will Austin Jackson play?
A. “I do think most of, if not all of, Austin’s time will come in center. Obviously a high quality defensive player out there and a lot of his value comes from having him in that spot. As I talked about with Adam Eaton at the end of last season and a couple times over the offseason and once again this afternoon, we also view Adam as a very fine defensive center fielder. He was one of the three finalists for the Gold Glove in 2014 out there and we think we’re stronger certainly from a defensive standpoint when we have both Adam and Austin out there in that same outfield. Adam’s expressed a willingness to do whatever we feel makes the most sense on a given day to win a ballgame whether that’s playing center field for Adam or — or being on one of the corners. We’ll let the lineups take care of themselves the next several weeks and ultimately it’s going to be about Robin and the coaching staff putting us in the best position to win.”
Q. What about J.B. Shuck?
A. “He did a very fine job coming off the bench for us last year filling that extra outfield role, playing good defense, getting some big pinch hits and obviously runs well. So, there’s certainly room for J.B. and the other outfielders we’ve talked about on the Opening Day roster. It being March 6, we need not set that roster just yet. But there certainly remains room for J.B. Shuck on that roster.”
Q. When does Jackson report to camp?
A. “Tomorrow (Monday).
Obviously he’s going to be a little behind the other position players so it may be another week or 10 days until he appears in A games. But, he’ll be in camp tomorrow morning going through our workout.
Q. When will we see Eaton in the outfield?
A. “I think so long as he gets a handful of games out there he’ll be fine come the start of the season. We have internally a target date, which comes at the end of the throwing program and then we’ve put in a few days of cushion in there just to provide him whatever time he may need at the end of the program. But we need not put that out there just yet. We’re still building and so far he’s progressing very nicely and again we have no reason not to believe he’ll be ready come Opening Day.”
Q. How is LaRoche’s back?
A. “No additional concern beyond what we’ve shared. Things seem to be centralized as a muscular issue and something we should be able to manage. Again, a move like the one we made today helps provide us — if this were in the regular season — additional insulation against a problem like that arising.”