Jackson seeks permanent place with Padres
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was a busy winter for Padres' shortstop Ryan Jackson, who in the span of a month was actually a member of three different organizations -- the Cardinals, Astros, and now the Padres.
But that's not all.
While trying to figure where he was going professionally, Jackson was trying to settle down personally, as he was married in December.
"I was with Houston for something like two weeks," said Jackson, who was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals in November, a month before being dealt to the Padres. "And then a couple of days before we left for our honeymoon, I was traded to San Diego."
It's been a lot to digest for Jackson, who has a better idea today where he stands. He's here in camp trying to win a job as a reserve infielder with the team.
"It seems like a very good opportunity for me moving forward," Jackson said. "I'm really [happy] that I'm here. Camp has been going very well."
The Padres parted with one of their better bench options in first baseman/outfielder Jesus Guzman to land Jackson, who is considered a plus-defender at shortstop -- a premium position that's not always easy to fill, especially on the fly.
The Padres discovered that a year ago when Everth Cabrera -- the team's lone All-Star representative -- landed on the disabled list in July with a hamstring injury. The team had to go outside the organization to sign Pedro Ciriaco.
Then, when Cabrera was suspended for the final 50 games of the season, the team went out and signed free agent Ronny Cedeno to fill in at shortstop.
By acquiring Jackson, the Padres add to options in terms of having a player on the roster or in Triple-A -- and Jackson still has Minor League options -- who can fill in quickly if needed.
"In his college days, he was a really good defender," said general manager Josh Byrnes. "He has actually swung the bat pretty well in the Minor Leagues, but his strength is his defense."
Jackson hit .278 with a .352 on-base percentage in 2013 for the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate. Jackson has 24 Major League at-bats over the last two seasons, collecting two hits. He's a career .270 hitter in the Minor Leagues, though it's obvious his strength is his defense.
"I like his glove. Ryan has looked good," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He has good actions, solid arm stroke, good feet and good hands. I know [coaches Rich Dauer and Glenn Hoffman] have said that they like what they have seen as well."
Jackson realizes that his calling card is his defense. He's embraced that.
"It's something I take very seriously," Jackson said. "Especially playing shortstop you have to be sure-handed, you don't have time for mistakes. You make a mistake, and the guy is on base and then a big inning can happen. I take a lot of time on my craft and trying to be solid for the pitching staff."