Anthony Rizzo, one of those fresh, young face-of-the-franchise guys for a Cubs team in transition, stood before a dozen media members Thursday morning, stared into the TV cameras and talked about the Cubs' big plans, and his part of them as he enters his first full season in the big leagues.
A few feet away, almost literally in the shadows, outfielder Brett Jackson quietly got dressed for practice.
Quietly is not how Brett Jackson typically does things. And the shadows have never been the ultra-confident, California kid's natural habitat.
But one year after he and Rizzo were two of the hottest topics in camp -- inextricably linked for six weeks as spring training's rising-star prospects for a young, rebuilding team under new management - they find themselves in far different places.
Rizzo has become the cornerstone first baseman whose respectable slugging exploits have been exaggerated in Cubs marketing campaigns over the winter.
Jackson has become the once-brightest prospect whose astounding strikeout numbers last year have put him at a crossroads for a team that may not even have a job opening for him to try to win after adding two veteran outfielders over the winter.
``I'm more confident now than I was then, and I have every intention of making this team out of spring.''
If that sounds counterintuitive - at least - well, ``Yeah, you'd think so,'' Jackson says, explaining, ``I think I used my struggle in my 60 games or whatever it was as motivation and - not that I needed more incentive - but as incentive to become the player I know I can be. The fact that I struggled was an eye-opener in the sense that it showed me not that I can't do something, but it showed me how I can do something.''
Jackson said he was ``mentally and athletically 100 percent prepared'' for his big-league callup in early August last summer but admittedly, physically, his swing cost him - as in 59 strikeouts in 120 big-league at-bats, and 217 between Class AAA and the majors overall.
Only the White Sox' Adam Dunn (222) struck out more in professional baseball last year.
``What last year gave me, if nothing else, was the ability to figure out what I needed to change,'' Jackson, 24, said.
Cubs' Brett Jackson has `every intention of making this team'
Chicago Sun-Times | Feb 14