GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The addition of the World Baseball Classic to the schedule this month made for a longer Spring Training. Indians outfielder Austin Jackson, who is competing for a roster spot and working his way back from a knee injury, has no complaints."Having a little bit of an extended
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The addition of the World Baseball Classic to the schedule this month made for a longer Spring Training. Indians outfielder Austin Jackson, who is competing for a roster spot and working his way back from a knee injury, has no complaints.
"Having a little bit of an extended Spring Training, it works out well for guys in my situation," Jackson said on Monday. "I don't think everybody probably agrees with it, but for me, it just kind of gives me a chance to get back in the swing of things and really get my legs back in baseball shape."
Jackson, 30, manned center and hit second for Cleveland in Monday's 9-5 loss to the White Sox, marking his third Cactus League game for the Tribe. He went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts, playing four innings in the field. The outfielder's first few weeks as a non-roster invitee consisted of rehab and gradual steps to prepare him for game activity. To date, Jackson has experienced no setbacks.
Last year with the White Sox, Jackson sustained a torn meniscus in his left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery on June 15, ending his season. The outfielder said he also dealt with bone bruising, leading to a slower comeback than anticipated.
In camp with Cleveland, Jackson has been pleased so far with how his knee has responded.
"It's been feeling pretty good," Jackson said. "It's feeling about as close to normal as it can be, I think, at this point. It's been responding well the next day."
Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Jackson, whose first three games were divided up with an off-day in-between, would serve as a designated hitter on Tuesday. That will mark Jackson's first consecutive games played this spring, in which he is trying to win a spot as a reserve outfielder for the Tribe.
At the moment, Cleveland projects to have Tyler Naquin in center field, and both Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer splitting time in right. Abraham Almonte is a leading candidate for a job, while Michael Brantley (August right biceps surgery) is working his way back into the picture.
The seven-year veteran, who was pursued by the Indians before signing with Chicago two offseasons ago, is hoping to show he is healthy and ready to be a part of the outfield mix, too.
"Playing against this team for a while in the Central," Jackson said, "seeing the winning culture start to develop, and the maturation of this team, I kind of wanted to be a part of it."
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.