Jackson’s journey at an end

first_imgVERO BEACH, Fla. – The Dodgers announced their first round of spring-training cuts Sunday, and the knife sank deeper for some than for others. As a result, one of baseball’s ultimate journeymen might finally have reached his journey’s end. Damian Jackson, who built an 11-year career out of being a light-hitting utility man, was released, the ultimate indignity on a day when seven other non-roster invitees were reassigned to minor league camp and three roster players were optioned down. The moves were announced shortly before the Dodgers’ Grapefruit League game, a 10-9 victory over the Washington Nationals in front of 4,354 at Holman Stadium. Jackson hit .198 for Washington last season before the Nationals released him Aug. 25. He was even worse with the Dodgers this spring, batting .125 while playing mostly in the middle to late innings and facing mostly second-tier pitching. “He wasn’t going to make our club, so we didn’t think it was fair to keep him here,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said of Jackson. “This will give him an opportunity to possibly catch on with another team before the end of the spring.” A visibly upset Jackson blew off reporters after being told of the move. He angrily filled twolarge equipment bags with the contents of his locker, zipped them up and, with one bag in each hand, began to walk away. As he did, each bag knocked over a chair. Not bothering to pick them up, Jackson simply left the clubhouse and disappeared into what probably is a retirement he wasn’t ready for or expecting. “He was disappointed,” said Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng, who was in charge of signing non-roster players this winter and was in manager Grady Little’s office when Little gave Jackson the news. “He didn’t say very much at all. He just nodded his head.” The Dodgers optioned pitching prospects Zach Hammes, Eric Hull and Mike Megrew. The club reassigned non-roster pitchers Scott Elbert, Travis Smith and Dario Veras; catchers A.J. Ellis and Ken Huckaby; and infielders Chin-lung Hu and Fernando Tatis. Jackson, 33, has a .243 career average with eight clubs. He played for Little with Boston in 2003, and the two embraced in the clubhouse the day Jackson arrived. center_img Remember him: Although middle-infield prospect Tony Abreu survived the first round of cuts, he won’t survive much longer. But while it is clear he is destined for Triple-A Las Vegas, Abreu continues to leave a strong enough impression on club officials that his major league debut could come sometime this season. He went 2 for 2 with a home run, a sacrifice fly and threeRBIs Sunday. That included a key ninth-inning single off Chris Schroder, one of four consecutive hits by the last four Dodgers batters that completed a three-run rally. Abreu is hitting .409. “I thought he was good at (Double-A) Jacksonville last season, I thought he was better when I saw him in winter ball in the (Dominican Republic) and I think he looks good now,” Colletti said of Abreu. “There are a lot of players here who aren’t going to leave here with us. But as the season goes on, we’re going to have needs, and the first people you think about are the ones who impressed us this spring.” Wide open: The competition for the fifth spot in the starting rotation isn’t becoming any clearer. Brett Tomko has yet to give up a run, Chad Billingsley has yet to give up an earned run, and even the struggling Mark Hendrickson went three solid innings without allowing an earned run Saturday at Florida. And then there is left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who might have been the favorite from the outset and who turned in two hitless innings against the Nationals. Kuo has allowed just a run on two hits over six innings this spring, but he has walked six batters. Little said he doesn’t see any one candidate emerging. “It’s one of those situations where as an organization or as a manager, you can’t lose when you make the decision,” he said. “All those guys have stepped up to the plate.” [email protected] (818) 713-3675 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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