tampabay.com

Advice to Jackson: Stop overthinking

By MARC TOPKIN
Published May 26, 2007


CHICAGO - Edwin Jackson said he won't look any different tonight -- "You're not going to see anything crazy," he said -- when he makes his first start in eight days. But the Devil Rays are hoping that with an extra bullpen session to make a few small mechanical adjustments, he pitches differently.

Manager Joe Maddon said Friday that he expects to see Jackson have better command of his fastball, use his full assortment of pitches and display a "certain mound presence."

And he wants Jackson to make the game more of, well, a game.

"I really wanted him to understand I just want him to go out there and compete and try to beat the other team and not worry so much about what's going on, mechanically speaking," Maddon said. "When we grew up as kids, wherever we played, we never worried about if my arm was in the right slot or my hands were in the appropriate spot or whatever. You saw the other team in the other uniform and you just tried to beat them, with your mind and your athletic ability.

"I want him to go out there and want him to compete. I just want (him) to reduce it to like a 'want-to' situation -- I want to beat these guys."

Essentially, he told Jackson to consider the start an "elevated game of catch" between himself and the catcher.

"His skill level is ridiculously good," Maddon said. "I just think sometimes, like with all of us, the mind gets in the way. I'm really having him try to subtract his thoughts and just kind of become unconsciously confident."

PITCHING IN: The Rays officially are still listing Jae Seo as the starter for Tuesday's game against Detroit, but that could change given his 8.10 ERA and .366 opponents average (an AL-most 79 hits in 50 innings). If the Rays look to the minors for a replacement, the leading candidate appears to be Andy Sonnanstine, who is 6-2 with a 2.30 ERA and a dazzling 60/12 strikeout/walk ratio at Triple-A Durham.

SLOW LANE: Carl Crawford, who failed to break for home in the fourth (leading to a double play) and got caught stealing in the eighth, said: "I've been in a little baserunning funk lately. I don't know what the problem is."

NOT QUITE RIGHT: With LHP Mark Buehrle on the mound for the White Sox, Friday would have been a good night for right-handed-hitting C Shawn Riggans to start. But Maddon said there is still concern over the right elbow strain that delayed his promotion until Thursday. "We're not 100 percent sure Riggo can withstand nine innings of throwing, " Maddon said.

AKI WATCH: 3B Akinori Iwamura went 1-for-3 and played seven innings in the field Friday in his fourth extended spring training game. If all goes well when he is the DH in today's game against the Yankees at Tropicana Field (closed to the public), he will be activated and start for the Rays Monday.

MISCELLANY: The Rays have lost six of their past seven. ... Durham LHP J.P. Howell left Thursday's start for precautionary reasons involving his elbow. ... RHP James Shields has left all 10 starts with the Rays ahead or tied. ... RF Delmon Young picked up his seventh assist, second most in the AL. ... The Rays are scrambling for catching in the minors, too, as Double-A Montgomery's Josh Arhart went on the DL with a bulging disc and Matt Spring was promoted from Class-A Columbus. ... Thursday's game was the 59th in which the Rays allowed 12 or more runs but just the fourth they've won. ... Chicago gametime temperature was 55.