Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs ' job market squeezes top-prospect Jackson

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MESA, Ariz. -- You know the job market's tough when a guy like Brett Jackson can't get a job with a team like the Cubs.

``Unfortunately for him, there's just no job openings,'' Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday morning before the Cubs played the Milwaukee Brewers at HoHoKam Park. ``Just one of those things, a timing and a numbers thing.''

Already having failed to find a taker for Alfonso Soriano and cash, the Cubs' only avenue for getting Jackson on the Opening Day roster might be to successfully shop Marlon Byrd in the next three weeks.

One thing they won't do is put Jackson on the bench at any level.

Jackson, one of the Cubs' top two prospects, has outplayed the entire Cubs' spring roster of outfielders so far in camp except red-hot Alfonso Soriano - and, of course, he's light years ahead of Soriano defensively.

If you count his pair of homers in as many intrasquad games, he has three in 10 games and in eight Cactus League games has three walks to go with five strikeouts and 1.115 OPS in the puny sample size of 16 plate appearances.

More impressive is simply what he's looked like since camp opened, elevating the opinion Sveum had of him based on video and scouting reports.

``When you see him in person, it's been pretty impressive, every part of his game,'' Sveum said. ``He comes to play every game. He comes to kick the other team's butt, there's no doubt about it. A very aggressive, confident kid who's probably going to end up playing here a long time.''

What's more, Sveum said he's ready to play in the big leagues.

``I don't see why he wouldn't be ready,'' he said. ``Maybe just [develop] the last part of his game as a little bit better two-strike hitter and not putting himself in some of those counts with swinging and missing. As far as the ability or anything, I don't see what else has to happen.''


Look for some separation to start showing over the next week as the Cubs play nine games in five days, starting Thursday, with a major roster cutdown expected after that.

The Cubs have four pairs of split-squad games over the five days.

``To have them all bunched up together, it's not all that good,'' Sveum said. ``But it comes at the right time where the position players can be built up to play nine innings - not that everybody will. But they'll start playing more, nine innings, eight innings, getting four at-bats, that kind of thing.

In particular, it provides lots of starts in a short span for the Cubs' bevy of candidates for the fourth and fifth starters jobs.


Wednesday's lineup vs. the Milwaukee Brewers (sans Ryan Braun):

RF David DeJesus
CF Marlon Byrd
SS Starlin Castro
3B Ian Stewart
2B Jeff Baker
C Geovany Soto
LF Reed Johnson
1B Anthony Rizzo
P Randy Wells

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 14, 2012 12:55 PM.

Cubs rotation job Samardzija's to lose? was the previous entry in this blog.

Cubs' bullpen scramble and Soriano's bat is the next entry in this blog.

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