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Jackson 'feeling like myself again' after HR

Long ball vs. Astros was outfielder's first since 2015
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Austin Jackson's trot around the bases at Progressive Field on Tuesday night carried a little extra meaning for the veteran outfielder. The blast did not help the Indians to a win in the end, but it was another sign that Jackson is feeling more like himself on the field again.

The home run was the first in 572 days for Jackson, who signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland over the offseason with the hope of competing for an Opening Day roster spot. Coming off left knee surgery that ended his season in June with the White Sox, Jackson not only broke camp with the Tribe, but he has thrived in the first month.

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CLEVELAND -- Austin Jackson's trot around the bases at Progressive Field on Tuesday night carried a little extra meaning for the veteran outfielder. The blast did not help the Indians to a win in the end, but it was another sign that Jackson is feeling more like himself on the field again.

The home run was the first in 572 days for Jackson, who signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland over the offseason with the hope of competing for an Opening Day roster spot. Coming off left knee surgery that ended his season in June with the White Sox, Jackson not only broke camp with the Tribe, but he has thrived in the first month.

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"It did feel good to round 'em again," said Jackson, whose most recent home run came on Oct. 1, 2015, when he was with the Cubs.

Cleveland has used Jackson out of the gates as a part-time center fielder, getting the bulk of his playing time against left-handed pitching. Indians manager Terry Francona admits that Jackson's career numbers (.723 OPS against lefties and .733 OPS against righties) do not paint Jackson as a platoon player, but that is how he currently fits into Cleveland's roster.

At the moment, Jackson is sharing time in center with Lonnie Chisenhall, who mostly plays against right-handed pitching. Michael Brantley plays full-time in left field and Francona has mixed and matched with Brandon Guyer and Abraham Almonte in right.

Through 10 games, Jackson has posted a .296/.387/.556 OPS with five extra-base hits and four walks in 31 plate appearances. Within that showing, the right-handed-hitting outfielder has turned in a 1.151 OPS in his 21 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.

The early showing comes after Jackson appeared in only 54 games for the White Sox this past season. He did not play after June 9 due to a torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery on June 15.

"He deserves a ton of credit for getting himself in game shape as quickly as he did," Francona said. "He had a lot done in [his knee], and he missed a fair amount of time. And then, when he got the OK from the trainers, he was going game speed pretty quickly, which was impressive. And not only that, but he's maintained it, I think as you see him get more repetition."

Tuesday's home run was another bit of evidence to back up Francona's assessment.

"When you're dealing with the knees, that's tough," Jackson said. "All the cutting and pushing off -- things like that. I'm starting to get back to feeling like myself again, as far as physically. Offensively, defensively, things like that, that stuff just comes with playing more. The more I play, the more comfortable I get out there."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Cleveland Indians, Austin Jackson