Jackson tore up both Class A and Double-A pitching last season,
split between Lancaster and El Paso, and he had held his own in the Cactus
League, showing both patience and some power at the plate against
Unfortunately for the good-looking, guitar-playing slugger with
the famous father (his Dad, John, an actor, portrayed Admiral A.J. Chedwiggen
on the CBS television show "JAG"), there isn't any room at the inn
when it comes to the outfield in Arizona.
That's why the Diamondbacks, because of his bat speed and
efficient, short stroke, decided to play Jackson predominantly at first base
in spring training, hoping that a change of position might help fast-track him
to the majors.
"He's going to be a good one for a mighty long time. I can
tell that just by the way he handles the bat," said Will Clark, the
former major league first baseman who is now a special assistant to the
Diamondbacks and has served as a part-time coach in the spring.
Jackson, who played some first base in college at Cal, hasn't
made the switch a big ordeal, even though Arizona appears to be enamored with
the potential of line-drive hitter Chad Tracy
, the second-year man who will
start the season at first base.
"Wherever they want to put me, it'd fine by me,"
Jackson said. "They can stick me behind the plate if they want to."
No, first base is fine, for now. Someday Jackson might move back
to the outfield on a full-time basis, though his arm and speed appear better
suited for corner-infield duty at present. Jackson, though, has been gleaning
every bit of information he can in his first big-league camp from a slew of
veterans, including the likes of Clark and another part-time spring training
coach, Mark Grace
"A couple of those guys have already helped me with my
swing," Jackson said, "and yeah, you bet, I listened. How can you
not? I've picked up some pretty valuable stuff from a lot of guys since I've
been here, even off-the-field stuff that I know can only help me."