On Tuesday morning, Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson made a promotional stop in Taylor, MI to talk about the Pepsi Max Field of Dreams Program. During his appearance, Jackson was kind enough to give me some time to talk with him. Below you’ll find my five good minutes with AJax.
MCB: Obviously the big news recently is the trade to acquire Delmon Young. What are your thoughts on the addition and how it changes the dynamic of the team?
Jackson: It’s definitely a trade that came as a surprise to a lot of us, but, as you can see by what he did (Monday), he can definitely help this lineup out a lot by adding power; another guy who can drive the ball in the gap and drive in runs.
MCB: I heard that when he (Young) walked into the clubhouse, the team wasn’t aware of the trade at that point. What was the reaction there?
AJ: Yeah, that was probably the funniest situation I’ve been apart of, because guys were in the lunch room eating and he walked in there and everybody’s face just got.. everybody’s jaws dropped. He kinda had to explain to us. Later we just laughed about it, everybody was shocked. I’ve never seen that before where an opposing player came into the locker room.
MCB: Young is just one of several changes made to the roster since opening day. How you you and the team adapted to all the new faces?
AJ: Really just by everybody wanting to get to the same goal at the end of the season. No matter if it’s somebody we played against early in the season, the see how hungry we are to go to the playoffs, they kinda come over here and kinda feed off that and they just kinda build that team chemistry. As soon a they get in the clubhouse, they can feel that energy so it’s hasn’t been a tough adjustment for the new guys that have come over.
MCB: Obviously you were involved a pretty high profile trade yourself, coming from the Yankees to the Tigers. Can you describe your emotions when you got that call telling you that you were being traded?
AJ: I was definitely shocked just because there was nothing really that lead up to the trade, it kinda just happened in a couple of days. It was one of those things where my agent was really happy just because he saw the opportunity there for me and I think that once he kinda explained to me that the opportunity was mine to grab, it definitely put me at ease.
MCB: You had such a great rookie year, but then you kinda got off to a slow start this season. There was talk in the media that it might have been a good idea to send you down (to Toledo) to get your swing straightened out. Was there any point in the early part of the season where you lost your confidence a little bit or were maybe even worried that you would be demoted?
AJ: I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t worried about it. It was something that I felt that if I was getting on base a little more early in the season, we could have won some of those game because the guys in the middle of the lineup were hitting. So, it was definitely frustrating. I wouldn’t say that I lost my confidence, I’m definitely confident that I can play at this level, it was just one of those things where if you just looked around the league at that time, there was a lot of guys struggling. It wasn’t just me. I just kept battling and went out there trying to do my job.
MCB: You’ve built a great reputation as an outstanding centerfielder. Is there any particular catch that stands out in your mind as one you’re most proud of?
AJ: I don’t know if any of them just really stand out, I mean the one last year that I made (behind) Galarraga (should -have-been perfect game catch), that was probably the toughest just because of how long I was running. All the catches this year have just been to try to help us win the game, just doing whatever I can do to not let that run score.
MCB: Who was the greatest centerfielder that you’ve ever seen?
AJ: I think Ken Griffey, Jr. was definitely the greatest centerfielder that I’ve ever seen. Not to mention offensively he was really good, but he went out there on defense, he robbed a lot of home runs and upset a lot of hitters.
MCB: If you could, scout yourself. What are your greatest strengths as ballplayer and what are some areas that you feel you need some work?
AJ: I don’t know. It’s tough to really grade myself. I definitely harder on myself than anyone.
As I mentioned above, Jackson was there promoting his involvement with Pepsi Max. For more on the Field of Dreams programs and how you can participate, go to mlb.com/pepsimax.
I’d like to thank Jackson for taking the time to talk with me. He was remarkably easy to talk to, he put a good deal of thought into his answers, and seems like a genuinely good guy. On a more personal note, I’d also like to thank the folks at Matter-Edelman for contacting me about this opportunity. It’s nice to know that I am considered “media” by someone.