GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He’s in good shape, but Austin Jackson needs time to achieve baseball shape.
After he reported to camp Monday, the new White Sox outfielder said he continued to workout as he normally would in a longer-than-normal offseason.
But whereas Jackson’s new teammates have already been in camp for 13 days, he just arrived and participated in his first workout Monday. The White Sox said Sunday night that Jackson -- who signed a one-year deal worth $5 million -- could need up to 10 days before he appears in a Cactus League contest.
“I’m accustomed to being in spring training at a certain time, so this is kinda new for me as well,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, I can get a lot of work in here these next couple days, and when I got in there and sit down and talk and see what’s expected of me over these next couple of days, I’ll have a better feel of where I’ll be at.”
A first-time free agent, Jackson had an idea he’d be in for a long offseason with Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton still on the board on Jan. 1.
Then it got longer. The outfield market moved at a glacial pace this offseason.
So Jackson stayed home in the Dallas-area and kept in shape, waiting for word and an opportunity to play center field. He’ll have that chance with the White Sox, though Jackson said he and manager Robin Ventura hadn’t had a chance to sit down yet to discuss what’s expected.
“You're kind of just waiting your turn,” Jackson said. “There's a pecking order, so you just kind of see what's going on. You’re informed of what’s going on but most likely those guys are going to have to get signed before you do. That's just how it is. Once you get to this point in spring training, teams start to see maybe what else they might need- depth and things like that. I think I kind of fell into that category."
“Other than the free agency part, it was a normal offseason as far as working out and training and all that. I tried to keep doing the same things I always do and keep myself fresh.”
The White Sox are prepared to give Jackson time to catch up.
“He’s going to be a little behind,” general manager Rick Hahn said Sunday.
Achieving baseball shape takes time. No matter how hard a player works in the offseason it’s difficult to replicate working out in spikes, swinging the bat hundreds of times a day and repeatedly running around in the field. Even standing around on the field, teammate Alex Avila said.
“We work as athletes all offseason but it’s a different shape you’ve got to get into,” Avila said. “Usually you’re going through those things in the offseason to make sure you’re staying active and then all of a sudden you’re getting into where you’re going every day opposed to going two to three times a week.”
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Jackson said he also missed the atmosphere of a major league clubhouse. He bumped into several familiar faces on his first day -- “I walk in there and guys are already giving me crap about stuff I did years ago,” he said. While Jackson doesn’t know everybody he looks forward to catching up in that regard, too.
“It’s awesome,” Jackson said. “You miss the clubhouse, just seeing your teammates each and every day and just bond with them. I’m not sure if I know everybody’s name yet, but I’m working around to it. I can already tell right now it’s a fun clubhouse.
“I’m looking forward to it.”