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Published: 5/2/2002

Tigers notebook: Jackson adjusting to his new role

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT - When the Detroit Tigers picked up second baseman Damian Jackson from the San Diego Padres near the end of spring training, there was reason to wonder whether Jackson would be happy in Detroit.

Jackson had been a starter with the Padres last season, but would undoubtedly play behind Damion Easley with the Tigers.

When Easley went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle a couple of weeks ago, there was an opening in the lineup, but other players got the call ahead of the 28-year-old Jackson. He finally saw his name on the lineup card Tuesday night, and responded with a 3-for-4 performance, two doubles and three RBIs. Jackson singled and walked twice in yesterday's 7-6 win over the Royals.

Jackson, who had the second highest fielding percentage among National League second basemen last season (.986), went on the disabled list early in April with a laceration on his right middle finger after a throw tore off part of his fingernail.

Jackson, who came off the disabled list about 10 days ago, said keeping himself sharp while waiting for his opportunity to play has been a challenge.

“I've learned to adjust to my role,” Jackson said. “I've learned that this is my job - regardless of whether I am happy with it or not. I don't think anyone is truly content with being a part-time player, and if they are they probably should be at home.

“I just try and prepare myself, day in and day out, in the batting cages and on the practice field. I try and maintain a constant regimen of hard work, even though I'm not in the lineup every day.

Jackson said he has worked diligently at being patient at the plate, and trying to force the pitcher to throw him something he can put in play. That has made for several extended at-bats, including one Tuesday in which he fouled off a half-dozen pitches.

“A lot of times you get pitches that might be close enough to be called strikes, but they're not necessarily something that you can be effective with,” Jackson said.

Detroit manager Luis Pujols said Jackson has improved each day since coming off the disabled list.

“You can see his timing getting better and better,” Pujols said.

Jackson said he is content to play whatever role Pujols has in mind for him as long as he can help the Tigers continue to work their way back from their 0-11 start.

SHUTTING IT DOWN: Detroit closer Matt Anderson has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a muscle strain in his right (throwing) shoulder.

Anderson, who was examined in Alabama by Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday, does not have any serious injury, according to Tigers president Dave Dombrowski. Anderson had tightness in his throwing muscles in spring training and the problem appears to have returned, Dombrowski said.

Anderson will not travel with the team on its 10-game road trip that starts tomorrow in Minnesota. He is expected to rest his arm for several days.

MACIAS ON THE MOVE: After a difficult spring that saw him lose his role as the leadoff hitter, followed by a slow start this season, Detroit's Jose Macias has shown some signs of turning things around. He had three hits Tuesday night in just his second game in the leadoff spot, and followed it up with a single, a walk, two sacrifice bunts and a stolen base as the leadoff man yesterday.

Detroit manager Luis Pujols said he has tried to encourage Macias to take his licks at the plate when he sees something to hit, and not to waste good pitches working for walks.

“They were trying to make him take a lot of pitches, but I believe it should be the opposite,” Pujols said. “I think he has to be able to swing and hit the fastball when he sees it early in the count.”



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