Jackson Getting His Timing Back

Austin Jackson is just looking to get some at-bats

TAMPA, FL - Austin Jackson certainly turned some heads in his first big league camp, even drawing rave reviews from a legendary Yankee player, and now he's back at the minor league complex looking to get ready to build upon his breakout season last year.

"It was a good experience just to see those guys' work ethic," Austin Jackson said of his time in big league camp. "They've all got a great work ethic and they're a family over there.

"Everybody's together and everybody works hard. It's just one of those things when you get up there it could be easy to lose focus but they work hard and they have a plan each and everyday."

Coming off a stellar performance in the Florida State League last where he hit .345 with ten home runs in 258 at-bats for the Tampa Yankees, Jackson had a hard time finding his timing again over at Legends Field this month when he collected just eight at-bats and hit a meager .125 - but he still felt he did well all things considered.

"I think I did good," he said. "I was just trying to get my timing back a little bit at the plate. I think I got some good work in and I think I got in Joe Girardi's eyes, let him see that I'm capable of playing at that level. It was just a good experience for me just to see where I was at [competition-wise]."

Not only did he open Girardi's eyes earlier this month, but he also caught the attention of former Yankee great Reggie Jackson when "Mr. October" compared Jackson's athleticism to that of San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

"It feels good," Jackson said with a smile. "Reggie is one of those guys that's going to speak his mind. It's great to be compared to an athlete like that."

Considering it wasn't long ago that the former high-school basketball star had his athleticism questioned by the likes of Baseball America, it seems those concerns have certainly been answered over the last year.

"I never really worried about what they said," he admitted. "I just think I was going through some things physically and mentally as far as baseball-wise, and I just had to work through that.

"I got mentally tired and physically tired [in 2006]. That was a lot of my downfall right there. I came back the next year more prepared for the length of the season and I got a lot better."

With intrasquad games starting on Thursday and with official minor league games getting ready to begin over the weekend, Jackson has but one goal in his remaining time over the next two weeks in camp.

"I just want to get my timing back. I want to be able to go into the season feeling comfortable. I know the timing will come around once the season starts but I want to take some of the things I was working on over in big league camp and try and bring that over here, and be successful with that."

Realizing getting his timing down will only come with repetition and amassing more at-bats, especially considering he got so few in big league camp, he is very sure he can duplicate last season's success in Tampa this coming season.

"I'm real confident," said Jackson. "Working on that [the drift in his swing] helped me stay back on the ball and it helped me see the ball a lot better, and a lot longer. I think if I take that into the season I'll have a successful year."

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