Jackson working through big league growing pains

Jackson working through big league growing pains

Jackson working through big league growing pains
CHICAGO -- Not everybody can be Mike Trout. Brett Jackson is discovering that. The young outfielder has struck out 14 times in 24 at-bats in the week he's been in the big leagues.

"There's a long line of great players, including Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, who ... were 1-for-55 their first years in the big leagues," Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, said on Tuesday. "We almost expect young guys to come up and struggle. It's part of the growth process. It doesn't make it any easier for them to go through, but it's a natural step in a player's development. They come up and get humbled a little bit and make their adjustments, and maybe you have a chance to humble someone else down the line."

For the record, Trout, the Angels' stellar outfielder, also scuffled at the start, going 1-for-11 in his first three games.

Jackson, promoted from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 5, spent some extra time in the batting cage with hitting coach James Rowson prior to Tuesday's game.

"One of the things I told [Jackson] when he got here was that I didn't want to get into a whole lot of mechanics," manager Dale Sveum said. "I want him to go out and play and we'll evaluate from there and see what's going on. You don't want to sit there and tell somebody -- especially a young kid trying to survive in the big leagues -- mechanics, mechanics, mechanics. You can't concentrate on hitting or the baseball."

One of the things Sveum has noticed is that Jackson needs to fix what he dubbed a "lazy head." The Cubs want to see his head stay focused on the baseball longer.

"When [good hitters] swing the bat, their heads drive down and their nose gets much closer to the baseball than when it started," Sveum said of such players as Derek Jeter and Wade Boggs. "These are things that have to happen on a consistent basis. Every great hitter, consistent hitter does that with their head."

Jackson, the Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick in 2009, was hitting .256 with 158 strikeouts in 106 games at Iowa before he was promoted. In his first game, on Aug. 5 against the Dodgers, he went 2-for-4 with two singles. He has one hit in 20 at-bats since then.

"Sometimes to survive, you have to hit rock bottom and get back up," Sveum said. "This game is full of adversity. The guys who usually make it are able to handle the adversity and make adjustments. That's part of what we're doing this for in the evaluation process."