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Braves add veteran Jackson to bullpen

ATLANTA --   Edwin Jackson will have an opportunity to resuscitate his career as the latest member of Atlanta's bullpen. The Braves announced on Friday afternoon that they have signed Jackson for the remainder of this season.

Jackson will become the 28th reliever used by the Braves this season. The 31-year-old right-hander posted a 3.19 ERA in the 31 relief appearances he made before being released by the Cubs, coincidently while at Turner Field on July 21.

"It will be good to have an opportunity to play close to the house," said Jackson, an Atlanta resident who hails from Columbus, Ga. "I'll have a lot of family and friends around. It will also be good to be a part of the Braves organization that I grew up watching as a kid."

The Braves will pay Jackson approximately $150,000 over the remainder of this season to add some experience and depth to their bullpen. This arrangement will also essentially serve as an audition for the veteran hurler, who has not given up hope on returning to the starting role he filled over the past eight seasons at the Major League level.

Jackson is guaranteed approximately $17 million through the end of the 2016 season. The Cubs will be responsible for this total sum, minus whatever the pitcher receives from the Braves this year and the salary he gains after entering the free agent market during the upcoming season.

"He might love the bullpen," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He might come in and say, 'I'll be the eighth-inning guy or the seventh-inning guy or whatever.' We're open to him being in the bullpen or to help us in the rotation next year."

After posting a 5.60 ERA over the 58 starts he totaled for the Cubs during the 2013 and '14 seasons, Jackson fared better while being exclusively used out of Chicago's bullpen this year. He posted a 2.17 ERA and limited opponents to a .306 on-base percentage during the 21 appearances he made by the end of June. But after allowing four hits and four earned runs in just one inning against the Cardinals on July 6, he made just one more appearance (a scoreless one) before being released.

"I did have two years that didn't go the way I planned, but I know myself," Jackson said. "I'm not really one to get slapped on the face and lay on the ground and not do anything about it."

The Braves have long been linked to Jackson, who was in a proposed deal that would have sent Melvin Upton Jr. to the Cubs last summer.

Now, Jackson will be reunited with Atlanta pitching coach Roger McDowell, who served in this same role while the pitcher was playing for the Class A South Georgia Waves (Dodgers Minor League affiliate) in 2002.

"It will be a lot of fun getting back to working with Roger," Jackson said. "I had him in my earlier days with the Dodgers, so we're pretty familiar with each other. It's going to be a fun rest of the season. I'm just going to try to come out and continue to go where I left off before (the Cubs released me). I'm excited to get back on the field."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Listen to his podcast.
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