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Jackson's adjustments earn points in fifth starter battle
After throwing 42/3 more solid innings Saturday, and with an impressive 1.84 ERA to show for the spring, RHP Edwin Jackson still doesn't know if he has won the job as the Rays' fifth starter.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published March 25, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - After throwing 42/3 more solid innings Saturday, and with an impressive 1.84 ERA to show for the spring, RHP Edwin Jackson still doesn't know if he has won the job as the Rays' fifth starter.
But he feels like he did his job.
"I feel like I put a lot more pressure on this coaching staff than I have in the past," Jackson said. "My confidence is probably the best it's ever been. And having fun is a big part."
Manager Joe Maddon said the decision between Jackson and LHP J.P. Howell (an equally impressive 1.80 ERA) could be made soon, or the Rays could wait for each to pitch again.
He likes what he has seen from both. With Jackson, it's been better "strike-throwing ability," slider and pickoff move. Saturday, Maddon was impressed with the way Jackson made adjustments in his delivery from pitch to pitch against the Red Sox, avoiding the problems he had in his last start when he walked five.
"I thought Jack was really sharp," he said. "Today when he was getting out of it a little bit, he was able to refocus and get back to where he needed to be."
IMPRESSED: Getting a spot on the 40-man roster could be an issue, but RHP Gary Glover had another solid outing in his bid for a long relief job, lowering his ERA to 3.65. "Glover made a real good case for himself," Maddon said. "He's pounding the bottom of the zone with all of his pitches, and he's pitching with a lot more assertiveness and aggressiveness." ... LF Dustan Mohr (hitting .094) made the play of the day, a full-out diving catch with the bases loaded in the third. ... Maddon said veteran RHP Scott Dohmann has shown overall improvement and increased velocity, "From 'eye-dar' I had him at 92-93 (mph)."
ON THE MEND: After being scratched from Friday's game with what was announced as left groin tightness, LF Carl Crawford said he was feeling better. Actually, Crawford said he wasn't hurt, that he just wanted to rest because his groin has felt tight. "I'm not injured, nothing close to it," he said. "I could have played (Saturday)." ... Neither Crawford nor CF Rocco Baldelli (out since Tuesday with right hamstring tightness) are scheduled to play today, and Monday sounds questionable for Baldelli. ... C Josh Paul had X-rays taken of his sore right hand, bruised by foul tip Friday, but said he was confident nothing was broken. ... C Dioner Navarro caught five innings with no problems from his strained left hamstring and will test it again Monday.
QUICK THINKING: Navarro deserves credit at least for a creative explanation of why he started running off the field after Jason Varitek struck out for the second out of the fifth - he was trying to entice Coco Crisp to advance from second to third, and nearly caught him. "That was a new trick play that I've got," he said. "I'm working on it." Maddon said, "We would like to say that we've been practicing that, but we can't."
MISCELLANY: The Rays (7-16-1) ran their unbeaten streak to five since Monday's day off, tying the score in the ninth on Raul Casanova's single, then playing a scoreless 10th. ... Ex-Ray Julio Lugo didn't make the trip with Boston, avoiding his first matchup with younger brother Ruddy, who pitched two innings. "He was scared," Ruddy said. ... Umpire Marty Foster, who left Friday's game after being hit in the head by a ball, was evaluated at a hospital and is expected back on the job today. ... Crawford received his 2006 MVP and Paul C. Smith Champion Award from the Tampa Bay Baseball Writers Association of America chapter; James Shields the outstanding rookie award. ... Having relocated to Tropicana Field, the Rays will do their morning workouts there most days this week to get used to the new FieldTurf.