Illness in rearview, Jackson hopes to impress


Illness in rearview, Jackson hopes to impress

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

BOSTON -- In 2006, his first full season in the big leagues, Conor Jackson hit 15 home runs, a figure he matched a year later, in 2007.

Since then, however, the newest member of the Red Sox, obtained minutes before midnight Wednesday, has hit a total of 21 homers over the last four seasons, covering more than 1,500 at-bats.

Even as a highly-rated prospect, Jackson was never projected as a true power threat and was instead viewed as more of a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter. But still, the dropoff was stark.

It's possible the drop could be attributed to reduced playing time or a move away from homer-friendly Chase Field in Phoenix.

Or, it's possible, as some in baseball believe, that Jackson's numbers dipped after he contracted Valley Fever, a viral infection which usually targets residents of the Southwest.

Coccidioidomycosis, as it's officially known, takes the form of a mold spore. Inhaling the particles can result in flu-like symptoms and a general weakening of the body, resulting in lethargy, often for long periods of time.

"I can't say that I've lost power or lost strength," said Jackson. "I feel stronger, or just as strong as I did in 2008."

Jackson first felt ill in the first week or so of 2008, but it took five or six weeks to properly diagnose the condition.

"It's like (having) mono -- on steroids," said Jackson with a chuckle. "I felt tired, really fatigued . . . I lost weight, lost my appetite.

"A lot of people get it and shrug it off, like it's a cold. Some people might get it and their immune system might find something else and it kind of metastasizes and spreads."

As the condition went undiagnosed, Jackson naturally found the downturn in his health "concerning. At first, I just wasn't playing well, but I thought it (was the result) of stress because I wasn't hitting that well. I was sleeping a lot, 14-15 hours a day.

"It finally got to the point where we had to figure out what it was. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. I think we caught in a timely fashion."

When told of the diagnosis, Jackson didn't know what it was, much less the consequences.

"Snowboarders get it and they come back to the East Coast and doctors there don't know what it is," said Jackson. "It's definitely something that's indigenous to the desert area."

While some severe cases require ongoing treatment and lifelong use of medication, Jackson's case wasn't deemed that serious.

The trade to the Red Sox, completed late Wednesday night, caught him by surprise. But he was happy to learn of the deal.

"It's exciting," he said. "I'm coming from a team that's 15 games out to a team that's in the middle of a pennant race, and playing in the A.L. East and probably one of the friendliest fan parks in the game."

Jackson can play first base and both corner outfield spots and is eager to contribute.

"Whatever they need," he said. "It's probably going to be a bat off the bench and here and there playing against left-handers. Whatever my goal's going to be or whatever my role is going to be, I'm going to be ready for it and be prepared."

Jackson was hitting just .249 with Oakland and is hitless in his last 21 at-bats.

"It's definitely been a down year for me statistically," he said. " But I've helped my stock a little bit by playing multiple positions, playing left, and playing right, playing third a little bit, playing first. Hopefully I'll get some ABs and impress some people here."

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

BOSTON - It's a tad ironic the Red Sox met with David Ortiz on Tuesday about his post-playing career, and then the offense went out and did nothing and Xander Bogaerts was publicly lamenting Ortiz's absence two days later.

John Henry, Tom Werner, Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza, met at Fenway Park on Tuesday to discuss the retired slugger’s future role with the organization, team president Sam Kennedy said. 


Nothing's imminent, but there's one thing Ortiz is unlikely to do with the Sox in the near future: broadcasting. He could still do some of that in the postseason for say, FOX, but it appears an arrangement with NESN isn't in the cards for now, per Kennedy.

Ortiz's role with the Red Sox is still expected to be wide-ranging, something bigger than the standard alumnus agreement. He seems set on taking his time, enjoying his retired life, saying over the weekend he wants to be able to give the job the time it deserves. 

Kennedy in April was unsure if anything would get done this year. 

As for the team's play without Ortiz, and Bogaerts' comments?

"This is an incredibly talented ballclub," Werner said Friday at a luncheon benefitting the Red Sox Foundation and the Foundation To Be Named Later. "I’m really not terribly concerned. Like all fans, I’m a bit frustrated when we don’t give great pitching run support.

"We struggled the last couple of nights. It’s frustrating to think that Chris Sale, who I think is the best pitcher in the American League, doesn’t have much run support. But it’s April. I've been taught to not really look at the standings 'til July. Frustrated by the past two days, but look at the standings, and we’re only one win behind the Cubs. So you know, I mean I wish we were playing a little bit better,  but the team is going to bounce back."

Werner reiterated the Sox have room in their budget to add players ahead of the trade deadline.


Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound


Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound

The offensively challenged Red Sox welcome the defending world champion Cubs (something you haven’t been able to write since 1909) to Fenway Park tonight for a three-game series. 

Boston (11-10) has the fewest home runs in the majors (11) and is tied for next-to-last with Toronto in the American League in runs scored (78). The Red Sox scored only once in the two-game sweep by the Yankees (on an RBI groundout by Chris Young in the ninth inning Wednesday). 

They turn to left-hander Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60 ERA) tonight against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65), who flirted with a no-hitter at Fenway (7 2/3, 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 Chicago win) the last the time Cubs visited in 2014. 

Dustin Pedroia (.242) is hitting sixth for the first time in his career and Xander Bogaerts (.313) leads off for the Red Sox.

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox have added utility man Chase d’Arnaud - acquired off waivers from the Atlanta Braves - to the 25-man roster and called up right-handed reliever Ben Taylor from Triple-A Pawtucket.

To make room on the roster, lefty reliever Robbie Ross Jr. and utility man Steve Selsky were optioned to Pawtucket. 

The full lineups: 

Kyle Schwarber DH
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Ben Zobrist LF
Addison Russell SS
Willson Contreras C
Jason Heyward RF
Javier Báez 2B
Albert Almora CF

Jake Arrieta RHP 

Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
Marco Hernandez 3B

Drew Pomeranz LHP