CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Austin Jackson may being having a hard time going the distance, but following his second trip to the disabled list on the season, the outfielder has hit the ground running.
Though just 37 games to his credit when he hit the DL the second time, Jackson had been helping the Indians as a platoon outfielder slashing .304/.383/.500.
His third time on the active roster, it has been more of the same from the 30-year old in what could still prove to be the most pivotal stretch of the season for the Indians to date.
Jackson turned in a 2-for-4 performance on Wednesday, including a leadoff single in the 7th inning that led to the Indians taking a 3-2 lead on a Bradley Zimmer double. His 8th inning single proved to be the fifth and winning run in a 10-4 game.
That was began as just an encore to a 3-for-4 night in his return the night prior.
Brought in as a veteran reserve looking to regain his footing, Jackson is accomplishing what he set out to do on the field, while trying to play as often as possible.
“It’s real nice. I just want to do my best to contribute any way I can,” he said. “Anything I can do to stay healthy and stay out on the field for the team, I’m going to do my best at that. It’s just a matter of preparation, each and every day staying on top of all the stuff in the training room, and making sure I’m ready to go when I’m in there.”
Though it was at a different level, Triple-A Columbus, Jackson’s success never really went away. In five rehab starts with the Clippers, Jackson went 5-for-17 with two doubles and two RBI.
“Austin Jackson came back, looks like he’s in mid-season form,” Terry Francona said. “That’s the second time now when he’s gone back from the Minor Leagues on his rehab, he’s done it correctly and he’s ready to play when he comes back.”
The converted center fielder’s return has not been completely revolved around his offense, though, as the now-right fielder made a potential game-saving play in the 8th inning.
Prior to the Indians’ seven-run outburst, and with two-on and two-out in a one-run game, Jackson stayed on a line drive off the bat of Albert Pujols, tailing back towards center. With the liner cutting away, Jackson was able to reach down and snag it, retaining the team’s lead and allowing them to build en masse minutes later.
Jackson said he was helped by rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer along the way.
“That’s the thing getting in those corners. You get some funny slices out there,” he said. “I was able to stay on it, and good communication goes a long way.”