Having spent one summer doing PR and sports reporting work for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League, I have a strange affection for those former college ball players that came through the Cape League system, and are now making their way to the Major League ranks (especially those in summer 2008).
I guess you could say that I root for these guys as if they might remember me from one of our brief, post-game interviews in the summer of 2008. Although he didn’t play for Bourne, current Chicago Cub, Brett Jackson, always caught my attention. A long, lean center-fielder from Cal-Berkeley, the kid could do a little bit of everything – hit for power, steal bases, and draw walks, etc.
Since I currently live in the backyard of Wrigley Field, I was excited to see how quickly Jackson was sprinting through the Minor Leagues. Soon, I hoped, he would be the starting center-fielder of the Cubs. Unfortunately, Brett struggled in Triple-A and alarmingly, his strikeout percentage climbed. It looked as though Brett would not even make the Cubs Opening Day 2013 roster, let alone be their starting center-fielder.
Though we may not learn much from players’ statistics in spring training, I was delighted to see Jackson named as one of “Five to Watch in Spring Training (NL)” on Baseball Prospectus this morning.
He was highlighted not for “being in the best shape of his life,” “being in the worst shape of his life,” or anything similar to those silly headlines that fill our twitter feeds during spring training, but rather for the fact that he has decided to work with Dale Sveum and Cubs’ hitting coach James Rowson to re-work his swing. If that revamped swing can increase Jackson’s contact rate and decrease his strikeout percentage, we just may, after all, see Jackson roaming among through the ivy and battling the sun in Wrigley this season.
I mean, one can hope, right? After all, hope springs eternal – the same hope that have kept Cubs fans believing, time after time, that “This is Our Year.”