07/30/10 8:30 PM ET
White Sox get Jackson amid speculation
Acquired from D-backs, righty slotted into No. 5 spot
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
And judging by Ken Williams' comments on Friday evening, Jackson still will be a part of the White Sox starting rotation when the non-waiver Trade Deadline passes at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday.
Quite possibly, Jackson will stay in Chicago. Well, most likely.
"As I told him, I can't give concrete promises that are written in pen," said the White Sox general manager. "Even when I tell someone, 'Here's the likelihood of what's going on,' I still have to reserve that one percent chance, five percent chance, that something will materialize that will make the team as a whole better.
"You always have to be in search of that. So when I spoke with him, I said, 'Listen, you're going to hear your name over the next 24 hours bantered about in a three-way deal that's been bantered about for a month. So this is just going to accelerate it.' But if I had my choice, he would be planning on pitching on Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever [pitching coach Don Cooper] puts him in. Everything we're doing, we're looking to add and not subtract."
Williams made clear from actually as far back as last week's road trip in Seattle that he did not plan to mess with the chemistry on his American League Central-leading squad. That idea meant coveted players such as Gordon Beckham or Carlos Quentin were going nowhere but to their assigned posts with the White Sox.
With the Nationals having shown interest in Jackson, the thought process followed that the White Sox would ship the right-hander to Washington in exchange for Adam Dunn. The slugging first baseman, who would serve primarily as the White Sox designated hitter, would add a powerful left-handed bat in the middle of a red-hot White Sox lineup and provide another positive clubhouse influence to an already tight-knit group.
"[Manager Ozzie Guillen] expressed that we needed protection in the rotation, whereby when you get protection in your rotation, we had Peavy and it's somewhat of a hole," Williams said. "When you're contending, you want more certainty as to how you're going to be able to shape up in your rotation, which ultimately has an effect on your bullpen."
"I've seen him when he's been really good," said White Sox reliever Matt Thornton of Jackson. "When he's on, he's great. He's dominant. He can go deep in games and really shut down lineups."
Jackson currently has been placed on the White Sox 40-man roster, but Lucas Harrell was called up from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Friday's series opener with Oakland to take Hudson's spot on the active roster and his start. Ultimately, the White Sox will go as far as their pitching takes them, in a team built around strong arms, catching the ball and scoring enough runs to win.
If Jackson indeed stays with the White Sox, the White Sox still could go another route to add a bat, as suggested on MLB.com Thursday. Those options look to be dwindling from the left side of the plate, with Lance Berkman reportedly on his way to the Yankees and Brad Hawpe staying put in Colorado.
That upgrade on offense also could come from the right side, as Williams would not rule out another move.
"Now that [Jackson's addition] is taken care of, I will not say that we haven't explored other pieces to add with this, and we're just going to continue on," Williams said. "You know how we like to do things, we prefer to keep it under wraps and we'll just continue to do business that way. We're always looking for that next impact deal."
"Believe me, every time Kenny opens his mouth like, 'What do you think we need,' I always say, 'Give me pitchers,'" said Guillen with a laugh. "I never asked him to give me this, give me that. Give me pitchers and some speed and guys who can catch the ball. I'm easy to manage. I'm not greedy."
Over 21 National League starts this season, Jackson carries a 6-10 record with a 5.21 ERA including an eight-walk, 149-pitch no-hitter thrown against the Rays on June 25. Jackson would be pitching for his fifth team overall and fourth team in his last three seasons. He has a career record of 44-49 with a 4.74 ERA but features a 33-30 record over the last three seasons.
A control issue stands out as the primary present shortcoming in Jackson for a White Sox rotation priding itself on briskly attacking the strike zone and letting the strong glove men behind it go to work. Jackson walked at least 70 in each of his last three full seasons and has 60 walks in 134 1/3 innings during the 2010 campaign. But Gavin Floyd and Thornton had previous control issues since corrected upon joining the White Sox.
One small adjustment where Jackson's mechanics are concerned, in Williams' mind, will get Jackson back on track. It certainly looks as if Jackson will be taking those strides as part of the White Sox rotation, for the remainder of 2010 and in the 2011 season. A lot could still change before the deadline.
"Right now, he's on our team," said Cooper of Jackson, whose $8.75 million salary for 2011 and the remainder of his $4.6 million owed in 2010 will be picked up by the White Sox. "I'm taking that he's on our team the rest of the year. If something happens, we'll deal with it then. We deal with the people we have on hand."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.