Conor Jackson retires (and a few pregame notes)

NEW YORK - Conor Jackson was the Orioles’ final cut in spring training, losing out to Steve Pearce for the last bench spot on the 25-man roster. He figured to get back into the majors this summer. It was only a matter of time.

Nine games into his Triple-A season, Jackson has decided to retire.

Jackson informed team officials of his decision today, and the Norfolk Tides sent out a tweet confirming it.

Outfielder Lew Ford has been promoted from Double-A Bowie to Norfolk as Jackson’s replacement.

Jackson was 5-for-25 with a double and two RBIs for the Tides. He batted .302/.327/.528 in 22 exhibition games, with three doubles, three homers and six RBIs.

It was a nice comeback story for Jackson, 30, whose career nearly ended after he was diagnosed in 2009 with Valley Fever, a fungal disease caused by spores in the soil that’s most common in the southwest and leads to fever, headaches, cough and muscle pain.

Jackson was limited to 30 games that season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who made him the 19th overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. Once a highly touted prospect, he hit .300/.376/.446 for the Diamondbacks in 2008.

Jackson spent last season at Triple-A Charlotte, batting .277/.363/.434 in 88 games. He’s a career .271/.351/.407 hitter in parts of seven major league seasons.

The Orioles signed Jackson to a minor league contract during the Winter Meetings on Dec. 5.

At this point, I don’t have an explanation for Jackson’s retirement. I’ll provide an update later today.

Ford was 10-for-32 with five doubles, a homer, six RBIs and seven runs scored in eight games with Bowie. He hit .183 with three doubles and three home runs in 25 games with the Orioles last season after playing for the independent Long Island Ducks.

Also, pitcher Alex Burnett was assigned to Norfolk today, and pitcher Rob Delaney was transferred to Single-A Frederick. The Orioles claimed Burnett off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

Notes: A win tonight would mark the first time that the Orioles have won four straight series in the Bronx since May 14, 1976-May 22, 1977.

According to Elias, the Orioles have won a franchise-record 96 consecutive regular season games when leading after seven innings, dating back to August 2011. It’s the third-longest streak for any club during the expansion era (since 1961). The only longer streaks are 116 by the 1998-99 Yankees and 97 by the 2002-03 Atlanta Braves.

Since Sept. 7, 2011, Jim Johnson leads the major leagues with 63 saves. Craig Kimbrel (52), Fernando Rodney (49), Jason Motte (48) and Rafael Soriano (48) round out the top five.

Johnson has converted 95.5 percent of his opportunities, going 63-of-66, the best conversion percentage of any closer with at least 10 saves since Sept. 7, 2011.

The Orioles rank fourth in the American League with a 2.38 bullpen ERA, allowing nine earned runs in 34 innings. Their bullpen ERA in the best in the AL East.

The Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen ERA is 3.40, seventh in the AL. The Boston Red Sox are ninth at 4.26, the Tampa Bay Rays are 12th at 5.14 and the Yankees are 13th at 5.19.

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