Rays manager Maddon seeing a more self-assured Jackson

Edwin Jackson looked good again Tuesday in his bid to retain a spot in the Rays rotation. But it's how he looks that has impressed manager Joe Maddon as well.

By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Published March 5, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG - Edwin Jackson looked good again Tuesday in his bid to retain a spot in the Rays rotation. But it's how he looks that has impressed manager Joe Maddon as well.

"The difference for me is just his demeanor on the mound," Maddon said. "Just watching him, the word 'composed' really stands out right now. We talk about it a lot when a guy feels as though he belongs somewhere. I think he's arriving at that point; even the way he's carrying himself within the clubhouse to me has gotten better."

Jackson, 23, has had good springs before, but after the experience of spending the entire 2007 season in the majors, going 5-15, 5.76 ERA in 32 games, he has shown signs of progress, specifically in the critical area of strike-throwing, with no walks in his first five spring innings.

"Getting that many starts last year, and the fact that we stayed with him the whole year, I think is starting to show up a little bit right now," Maddon said. "I like what he's doing and I know he feels good about it, too. You can see it in his face."

Perhaps, but Jackson isn't relaxing yet. "I don't like to get too happy too quick, because it can turn around just as quick as it's happening," he said. "I'll just keep going out and working hard and getting the job done."

SOCK IT TO HIM: LHP Scott Kazmir continues to make "nice progress" in his recovery from an elbow strain, Maddon said. Kazmir is hoping to get to play catch outdoors today after throwing 22 simulated pitches Tuesday in a sock drill, with the ball and his hand in a sock. If all continues to go well, Kazmir said he could be back on the mound for a bullpen session this weekend.

GOOD DELMON: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire raved about ex-Ray Delmon Young, starting with his willingness to move to leftfield: "Delmon's been nothing but great with us. He's fit right in, he's done all the work, he's early, the whole package. And he's willing to do just about anything we ask."

PITCHING PLANS: Top draft pick LHP David Price, recovered from shoulder stiffness, is scheduled to throw a batting practice session today and, if all goes well, will make his exhibition debut Saturday against the Yankees. ... LHP Brian Anderson, "three to four weeks" ahead of schedule in his unlikely comeback, was to make his first game appearance today but wanted to throw another bullpen and instead also will pitch Saturday in Tampa. ... Troy Percival had an impressive bullpen session and will make his spring debut Thursday.

MISCELLANY:Rocco Baldelli flied out twice in two DH at-bats. ... After being "fired up" to face his former Twins teammates, SS Jason Bartlett went over during the rain delay to tell them, "It's weird seeing you guys over here." ... Al Reyes gave up singles to his first three batters as the Twins scored three in the fourth. ... Gibbs High product Boof Bonser, who lost about 30 pounds, pitched three strong innings, allowing two hits.


Rays updates

For Rays news throughout the day, check out The Heater at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.