Austin Jackson brings veteran mentality to Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Austin Jackson got a lesson on the intense the rivalry between his new team, the San Francisco Giants, and the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Walking into the Giants’ spring training clubhouse for the first time after being reaching a $6 million, two-year contract in January, Jackson was wearing blue clothing.
“I wouldn’t say it was Dodger blue, but it was sort of a blue shirt,” Jackson said, smiling. “I got some funny looks right away.”
With Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen set to be the primary corner outfielders, Jackson projects as at least a part-time center fielder for the Giants, though he can play all three spots in the outfield.
Jackson has hit leadoff, sixth and seventh in exhibitions and was 6 for 15 going into Tuesday night. The Giants also are giving prospect Steven Duggar plenty of playing time in center, and they have veterans Gregor Blanco and Gorkys Hernandez in camp, too.
“You can control what you can control. I think that’s something over time that I started to accept,” Jackson said. “But the same time I will not change who I am as a player and as a person, and continue to do the things that I’ve always done no matter where I am in the lineup or in the field. Just try to keep your focus and be ready. ... It’s all about being ready and keeping that mindset.”
The 31-year-old Jackson is entering his ninth big league season and is playing for his sixth team, Jackson has been traded in midseason three times.
“You understand the business side of it, and you just try to put yourself in the best position to succeed and to win,” he said.
A center fielder for most of his career, Jackson has just 24 errors over eight seasons at the position and has a .275 career batting average. He made one of the best catches of last season when he leaped to rob Boston’s Hanley Ramirez of a home run, tumbling headfirst over the short bullpen wall in right-center field at Fenway Park.
“It’s pretty cool. I don’t get tired of it,” he said. “It’s something you can always remember. Family, friends, they still talk about it. Big moment in my life.”
Jackson chose to sign with the Giants after seeing the moves the club made to improve the roster, including acquiring McCutchen from Pittsburgh and third baseman Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay.
“It really just seemed like a group I would fit best with,” Jackson said. “Good core players. A team that I played against in the World Series in 2012. They’re looking to win.”
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