Clock ticking for Jackson to prove worth

Clock ticking for Jackson to prove worth

Clock ticking for Jackson to prove worth
CLEVELAND -- Conor Jackson has become a victim of bad timing.

Absent for four games because of neck stiffness, Jackson quickly lost his starting job at first base to Brandon Allen. Now back in a utility role he served at the start of the year for the A's, he's hitless in his last 21 at-bats and knows he has a limited number of days left to prove his worth as a soon-to-be free agent.

"Obviously, going into free agency, you want to play every day," Jackson said. "That was the biggest thing for me. Now, I'm kind of at a point where I think being versatile is going to help me going into it. But on the flip side, you want at-bats, and the only way to get your numbers up is to get those. I've been through these types of stretches, but I was playing every day, so I had the opportunity to hit my way out of it, and this is a little different situation.

"I knew coming into the year, I was going to have to earn my time, and when I did get the opportunity, I would have to do something. Obviously, the past two weeks, I haven't. I haven't done anything to deserve playing time, so it's frustrating, especially this late in the year."

Jackson, who began Tuesday batting .249 with four homers and 38 RBIs in 102 games, has reentered a right-field shuffle that also includes David DeJesus and Ryan Sweeney. Allen -- batting .305 since his promotion -- is expected to assume everyday first-base duties the rest of the way.

"Conor hasn't got consistent at-bats since his injury," Melvin said. "Up to that point, it was probably his best stretch. He'd been playing every day at first and the production was going, and then he hurt his neck, and Allen came, and it's been difficult for him to get back in there regularly. I don't think he's gotten a hit since. It was a tough period for him, and it continues to be a tough period without the consistent at-bats."

It's one Jackson, having already been through multiple ups and downs in his career, takes in stride.

"The writing's kind of on the wall, and I understand the situation. You've gotta play Brandon Allen every day," the 29-year-old Jackson said. "He's a special talent, and he didn't get the opportunity in Arizona he deserves, but this is going to be a good fit for him. As much as I didn't like it, I understand that side of the game."

Allen could be one of several youngsters taking to the field in September, with callups expected to arrive by the end of the week as rosters expand. That could further limit playing time for Jackson, who is also unsure of where he fits into Oakland's bigger picture. DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp are all free agents at season's end, as well.

Needless to say, Jackson is very open to the idea of exploring the market.

"You have to," he said. "I would be doing a disservice to myself if I don't. There hasn't been any conversation here, but I'm a realist, and I'm looking at my numbers here and the next 28 days. Whether I'm in their plans, I don't know. I love Bob Melvin, I'm a big fan, and I think that's a big drawing point for me and for anybody."