Happy to return, Jackson has quick impact

Happy to return, Jackson has quick impact

ST. PETERSBURG -- Center fielder Austin Jackson came off the disabled list on Tuesday and immediately played a role in helping the Mariners beat the Rays, 7-6, in 10 innings.

Jackson wasted no time making an impact. He lined a single up the middle off Rays starter Alex Colome to lead off the game, stole second and advanced to third on an error, then scored on a single by Seth Smith.

Then, in the bottom of the first, Jackson sprinted deep into the gap in right-center to run down a drive by Evan Longoria with a runner on second.

Jackson's running catch

Although Jackson finished 1-for-5, his early contributions loomed large in a game the Mariners wound up scratching out in the end.

"I thought he looked fabulous," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He really jump-started our offense. A line-drive base hit, stole a base, went to third, scored a run. Next inning took a run away. I don't know what more you want out of a leadoff center fielder."

Jackson, who had been rehabbing with Triple-A Tacoma in Nebraska when he got the call to return, said that his sprained right ankle is fully healed and that he's ready to roll atop the batting order. He was on the 15-day disabled list since twisting the ankle after hitting the corner of the first-base bag running out a ground ball on May 3 in Houston.

"It's exciting. It almost feels like the first day again," Jackson said prior to the game. "You want to come back and help, but you have to make sure you're ready. You don't want to come back half-speed. Getting to play those [rehab] games and get right physically was important, but I think it helped mentally as well."

Jackson hit .263 in nine games with Tacoma. He said that his timing felt good in recent days, despite some mixed results at the plate.

"It's baseball," he said. "You might not have the same arms, but when you're talking quality of stuff, there's some guys down there that can pitch. They weren't going to let me be the reason they weren't going to get that callup, so they were pitching well. My timing felt good."

McClendon welcomes the return of the veteran's presence and athleticism to the offense as well as his ability to solidify the outfield defense.

"I just want him to be the player he is," McClendon said. "We're playing pretty good baseball. He can stabilize the top of our order, get on base and score runs."

The Mariners optioned reliever Danny Farquhar to Triple-A Tacoma after Monday's 4-1 win over the Rays and will temporarily go with a six-man bullpen until deciding how to deal with the position-player logjam created by Jackson's return.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.