The Cubs and Edwin Jackson had already run out of answers for why this $52 million investment went wrong.
Shelving Jackson on the disabled list with a right lat strain shed some light on the issues, even though Thursday’s decision won’t tell the entire story.
Jackson sounded resigned to the idea of change after Wednesday night’s 8-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants, again sitting inside Wrigley Field’s interview room/dungeon answering for another disappointing start.
Jackson spoke up and informed the club about the soreness after giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings, which left him at 6-14 with a 6.09 ERA. He dealt with a similar injury toward the end of last year and doesn’t think this will be a season-ender.
“I haven’t lost any confidence,” Jackson said, sitting with reporters in the home dugout. “When I take the field, I feel like I’m the best pitcher on the field. It just hasn’t shown (yet). I have a lot to prove to the organization. I still have a lot to prove to the fans of Chicago. I still feel like I owe them a lot. I’m being paid a lucrative contract. I still owe a lot on the field and to the team.”
At a time when the organization has built a strong pitching infrastructure, Jackson is now 14-32 with a 5.47 ERA through 57 starts in a Cub uniform. After this season, there are two years and $22 million left on a deal that was supposed to be a signature move for the Theo Epstein administration.
“I don’t think I’ve proven to the fans of Chicago or the organization what I can do,” Jackson said. “Maybe a glimpse here and there, but I still think that I have a lot of upside and I still have a lot to bring to the table. I just haven’t proved it. At the end of the day, you have to go out and do it on the field.”
Manager Rick Renteria declined to say how the Cubs will reconfigure their rotation without Jackson – lefty reliever Zac Rosscup got called up from Triple-A Iowa – but they have options in Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront and Dan Straily.
“He’s not a guy that complains,” Renteria said. “We’ll just kind of see how it goes and try to get him back and right.
“That’s part of his makeup – not wanting to let people down – (and) he’ll take the ball any time you give it to him. He’s been grinding through it.”
Everyone agrees Jackson is a good guy, popular with teammates and accountable to the media, which can make it that much harder to watch.
“I come to the field every day,” Jackson said, “and try to be in the clubhouse every day, to where if somebody sees me, they don’t know if it’s a good day or a bad day. It’s just the way I carry myself, whether I’m feeling 100 percent or whether I’m not feeling 100 percent. It’s just one of those matters you take as a professional.
“Regardless of what you’re dealing with, once you take the field and you decide that you’re going to pitch, you have to be ready for anything that comes with it. That’s just part of the job.”
Jackson will turn 31 in September and has already accounted for almost 1,600 innings in the big leagues. Durability became a big reason the Cubs were drawn to Jackson, who’s made at least 31 starts every year between 2007 and 2013.
But the Cubs haven’t really seen the guy who helped the Tampa Bay Rays get to the 2008 World Series, or became a 2009 All-Star with the Detroit Tigers or earned a World Series ring with the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
“I’ve never been one to make any excuses,” Jackson said. “You go out and you have a job to do. Once you choose to take the field, you choose to handle anything that comes with it.
“Clearly, I haven’t been out there pitching like I know I could. I haven’t really made any complaints about anything – or anything going on with my body – just because as a professional you go out there and you don’t make any excuses.
“(But) you battle, you battle, you battle, and it comes to a point where you just kind of have to set that pride (aside) and do what’s best for yourself and your team.”
Jackson said he’s struggled a bit to find his mid-90s velocity, and that extra effort may have thrown his mechanics off-balance. This will be a chance to regroup.
“It’s something you try to work through, but obviously it hasn’t worked out for me,” Jackson said. “I just figured it’s in the best interests of myself – and the team as well – to try not to fight through it anymore before something major happens.”