Jackson Getting Good Advice

Conor Jackson knows he likely will start the season in Triple-A Tucson, which isn't such a bad thing at all given his age (22) and his meteoric climb up the minor-league system (he was a first-round pick in 2003). "All we have to do is sit and wait -- and I don't think we're going to have to wait that long at all before we see him up here," one person high in the Diamondbacks' chain of command said recently of Jackson. "Hell, he can hit at this level right now."

   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 higher-quality arms.
   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."