BALTIMORE -- With three Indians outfielders on the disabled list, Austin Jackson has relied on his "just be ready" mentality to play any position and bat in any spot in the lineup that his team needs him to on any given night. On Thursday, the outfielder was more than ready
BALTIMORE -- With three Indians outfielders on the disabled list, Austin Jackson has relied on his "just be ready" mentality to play any position and bat in any spot in the lineup that his team needs him to on any given night. On Thursday, the outfielder was more than ready in the series finale against the Orioles.
Jackson led his team to a 6-3 victory over the Orioles by going 3-for-5 with three RBIs hitting in the No. 6 spot. He started his night with an RBI triple to right-center in the second and followed with a tiebreaking two-run single in the third inning before leading off the sixth with a single to left.
"Heck yeah, [he is a good player to have in the bottom of the lineup] and he doesn't complain about it," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think everybody likes to go up higher in the order, but I think he's glad he's in there. And just from watching him, I think he's enjoying playing."
"I think maybe a couple years ago when I had to try to make that adjustment [from batting high in the order to low] it was a little tough, but it was my first time doing it," Jackson said. "But now, it's just a matter of being ready. When you get a little bit more experience, you realize where you're hitting in the order is not as important as being ready when it's time for you to hit."
No matter where he has hit in the lineup or where he is playing in the field, Jackson said that he just tells himself to be ready to go wherever the team needs him to be. The outfielder missed 20 games in May after hyperextending his left big toe, but he has come back hot at the plate.
In his last 10 games, Jackson has played all three outfield positions -- to pick up the slack with Abraham Almonte, Brandon Guyer and Michael Brantley on the DL -- and hit .355 with one home run, eight RBIs, two doubles, one triple and six walks. Having the natural center fielder move to the corners of the outfield has clearly not affected his approach at the plate.
"You just have to look at it as being ready for whatever position. I played center field most of my career, but this is a different situation," Jackson said. "Just try to be ready [to hit with runners on]. Don't try to overthink it. Just try to be ready and try to get a good pitch to hit. That's really what you try to do every time. It's no different whether there's runners on or no runners on."
After missing the majority of the 2016 season with a knee injury, Jackson is not taking his recent success for granted.
"Absolutely, [I am having fun]," Jackson said. "It makes you appreciate it a lot more -- you know, when you're sitting at home and watching baseball as opposed to playing, you have a greater appreciation for it. That's what I'm doing right now. When it's my turn to play, go out there and play hard and just try to be ready."
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.