David DeJesus, Brett Jackson and where the Cubs go from here

David DeJesus, Brett Jackson and where the Cubs go from here
June 15, 2013, 2:30 pm
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NEW YORK -- Brett Jackson isn’t one phone call away.

No one expected the 2009 first-round pick to wheel his suitcase into Citi Field’s visiting clubhouse on Saturday, the morning after David DeJesus sprained his right shoulder crashing into the center-field wall. But that’s one of several moving pieces as the Cubs try to figure out where to go from here.

DeJesus will fly to Chicago on Sunday, and Monday’s MRI should give a better idea of how long the steady outfielder will be on the disabled list. In theory, this could be another Matt Garza situation, where an injury takes him off the trade market.

“We all know the reality of when you put yourself in a situation when the trade deadline comes,” manager Dale Sveum said, “and your organization feels like you’re done with possibly making the playoffs. Some of your good players or pitchers obviously have a chance of being traded. That’s the nature of the business.

“(DeJesus) should be back before that even gets close and get plenty of at-bats. You don’t want to see guys like that traded. But we all know it’s part of the game.”

[MORE: Crash into wall leads to shoulder sprain, DL trip for DeJesus]

The Cubs hold a $6.5 million option on the 33-year-old DeJesus for next season. Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury will headline the group of free-agent outfielders this winter, when only one season will remain on Alfonso Soriano’s megadeal.

Top prospects Jorge Soler and Albert Almora are supposed to be fixtures at the renovated Wrigley Field, and even No. 2 overall pick Kris Bryant could outgrow third base and wind up playing in the outfield.

Jackson is hitting .232 with six homers and 21 RBI through 54 games at Triple-A Iowa. After reworking his swing with the coaching staff during the offseason, he’s cut down on the strikeouts (64) while watching his OPS drop to .703.

The window hasn’t quite closed on Jackson, who will turn 25 in August, but the Cubs also aren’t sure when it will all click for the confident kid out of Cal-Berkeley.

“Nobody can predict that,” Sveum said, “especially (for) guys with the tools and the things that he’s capable of doing. You never know. It could be the 29-year-old. It could be tomorrow.

“You just can’t predict that after they’ve already played their four and five years of minor league baseball.”

[RELATED: Building with Kris Bryant: Cubs target more pitching]

The Cubs activated reliever Shawn Camp and will carry an extra arm in the bullpen for a few days, but if they decide to add another outfielder, Sveum indicated Dave Sappelt would be the next man up on the 40-man roster.

Combined, Jackson struck out 217 times last season between Iowa and the majors, while showing some pop (19 homers), speed (27 stolen bases) and the same fearlessness running into walls as DeJesus.

The Cubs hoped Jackson could be this summer’s version of Anthony Rizzo, a hyped prospect who learned from his struggles in the big leagues, went back to the minors and made all the necessary adjustments before knocking down the door. Jackson hasn’t earned that phone call yet.

“He’s down there to develop,” Sveum said. “It’s just the quality and the consistency on a daily basis swinging the bat, instead of the day-to-day thing, like good/bad, good/bad. We still need to see more consistency.”

[MORE: Stewart appealing 10-day suspension after Twitter rant]

So on some level Jackson needs to be more like DeJesus, who’s the same guy every day, a well-rounded player and a popular presence in the clubhouse. DeJesus sees pitches (4.1 per at-bat) and has posted an .804 OPS against right-handers this season. A player like that won’t be easy to replace.

“It’s a huge (loss),” Sveum said. “You just don’t find leadoff hitters like that around the league. It’s too difficult to find -– plus the defense he brings, his leadership and all that. He brings all kinds of factors to the table.”