DENVER — At some point, the Cubs will need Edwin Jackson in a big situation. The season is so long — and so many bad things can happen to a pitching staff — that this can’t simply be coming out of the bullpen for garbage time.

“You just have to tell yourself to be ready for whatever situation arises,” Jackson said Saturday at Coors Field. “Try to stay in the game. Just be ready when the phone rings and your name is called.”

This isn’t what anyone envisioned when the Cubs signed Jackson to a four-year, $52 million contract. But after two disappointing seasons in the rotation (14-33, 5.58 ERA), Jackson will have to reinvent himself as a swingman (or pitch well enough to build up some trade value).  

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Jackson looked sharp during Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies, throwing two scoreless innings while allowing only one hit against zero walks and two strikeouts.    

“He’s been very professional,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And then he gets his chance and does really, really well. So that tells you how well he’s processed the whole moment. I think Eddie’s done a great job with that, honestly. And that speaks or bodes well for him and for us if he could handle it like that and keep performing well. 

 

“You know he’s going to get an opportunity. You know it’s going to pop up, either a long moment out of the bullpen that helps us win a game, or he’s going to get a start and do the same thing.”

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For all the moments of frustration on the field, Jackson still has an easygoing personality that plays well inside the clubhouse, and a remarkably calm, patient way of answering questions from the media.

“When the guys start complaining about stuff,” Maddon said, “or they stop working and the woe-is-me, the victim’s-complex people of the world (come out), it never works. It never works. And after all, you’re playing (for) a Major League Baseball team. Come on, just do your job and then see how it evolves from there.”

If this experiment goes well, could you see an opportunity to get back into the rotation?    

“I don’t know,” Jackson said. “I don’t really worry about that. I just try to go out and whatever the job is…get it done for the inning, or however many innings I’m going to pitch. I really worry about what I can control. Try to put up zeroes.”