Jackson finding spring success with 'natural' swing
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus still isn't saying where Austin Jackson will hit in Detroit's lineup, and Jackson isn't getting too worked up about it. The point right now isn't that Jackson could hit anywhere; it's that he's hitting just about anything thrown his way.
Jackson smacked a two-run homer to left in the fourth inning of the Tigers' 5-2 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium. In five Grapefruit League games so far, he's gone 8-for-13 with a homer, a double, two walks, seven RBIs and five runs scored.
"He looks good. He's hit the ball well all spring," Ausmus said. "Let's hope he continues to stay hot for six and a half more months."
A productive Jackson would be huge for the Tigers' lineup no matter where he hits. It could be in the leadoff spot he's occupied his entire career, or it could be further down in the five or six hole, where he's been slotted early on this spring. Ausmus said not to read too much into where Jackson's hitting in early March, as Spring Training lineups aren't indicative of anything until closer to Opening Day.
Either way, Jackson's more concerned about his approach than the number by his name on the lineup card.
"I think it's more just trying to get consistent from a mechanical standpoint," Jackson said, "just trying to make sure that I'm continuing to do the things that I've been working on in batting practice and stuff like that and trying my best to take that into the game."
Jackson has worked on his own and with new hitting coach Wally Joyner on making his swing feel more natural and comfortable. He brought back the leg kick before his swing, but he said it's more important that he does it without thinking.
"Just letting it be natural and not trying to force something. I think the whole offseason, that's kind of what I was telling myself every time I went to hit," Jackson said. "Whether it was doing the toe tap or the leg kick or just going, 'I wanted to feel comfortable and let it be natural.'
"That's what I did, and coming back and telling Wally some of the things that I worked on. He was good with however I wanted to stand, leg kick, toe tap, whatever. I think that just getting back to the basics and keeping it simple was the goal we were trying to reach."