KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Edwin Jackson got a bit of on-the-job training today.
The Nationals starter is working to adjust his mechanics in an effort to avoid tipping his pitches, and so the 28-year-old spent much of today’s two-inning stint against the Astros focusing on “timing” issues.
“I felt good,” Jackson said in the Nats clubhouse after his outing. “I had a few minor adjustments that I was able to go to the ‘pen and work on after the two innings. Right now it’s just touch and feel, but I felt good and strong. I feel healthy. Not every fastball went where I wanted (it) to, but I threw some pretty decent off-speed pitches that went fairly well.”
Jackson allowed one hit and walked two in his two scoreless innings of work, throwing 28 pitches, 12 of which were strikes. He then threw 15 additional pitches in the bullpen.
The timing issues Jackson referred to centered around when he took the ball out of his glove and when he would get his arm around in a throwing motion.
“Just getting timing down, you have live batters in there, a little bit more adrenaline than bullpens,” Jackson said. “Seemed pretty good in the ‘pen, so just try to transfer (it) into the game next time.”
Jackson benefited from two 4-6-3 double plays turned nicely by second baseman Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Both double play balls came on fastballs.
“It’s always good to keep the ball on the ground,” Jackson said. “Of course, you don’t want to have to walk people to get inning-ending double plays, but when you make pitches when you need to make pitches and you get ground balls, (it’s) always productive.”
The good news for Jackson is that his spot in the Nationals’ rotation is secure, so he can use his spring training outings to focus on honing the new mechanics and making sure everything feels comfortable by the time the regular season arrives.
“You’re not going out there being complacent, but you just have a little bit more leeway to go out there and work on some things and not really be worried about what happens,” Jackson said. “So in that aspect, it’s definitely a little different when you somewhat have a spot, but you’re not out there being complacent as well. You’re still trying to be aggressive and still work on what you have to work on.”
Meanwhile, Bryce Harper’s day is now over. Harper went 1-for-3 on the afternoon, singling through the hole on the right side in his first at-bat and twice grounding out to second.
Update: The Nationals lost 3-1. Back in a bit from the clubhouse
Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com’s Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site’s deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the “George Michael Sports Machine” in Washington, D.C.