It didn’t take long for Luke Jackson to grow accustomed to his new role.
The 23-year-old right-hander was moved from the rotation to the bullpen at Triple A Round Rock a little over a week ago, and so far he’s had nothing but success.
He hasn’t allowed a hit in his four relief appearances, four scoreless innings.
His most dominating performance came Friday night against Omaha. He retired three batters on a combined five pitches — all mid- to high-90s fastballs, all strikes.
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“As a starter, I’d be reserved and hold back,” Jackson said. “And every time out of the bullpen I’m just like, ‘OK, here it is. Here’s my best fastball, my best curveball,’ and kind of throw my best stuff at you and see who comes out on top.”
Velocity has always been Jackson’s calling card. He was able to keep the radar gun buzzing deep into games, which led to him starting throughout much of his career.
While with the Rangers in his first big league spring training in March, he worked a little out of the bullpen, so the move didn’t come as a total surprise.
“Whatever they need and want me to do to help win, I’m all for it,” he said.
With the Rangers’ bullpen struggling of late, Jackson is one of several options at Round Rock. Tanner Scheppers continues to work his way back to the club, and Jon Edwards has 11 saves with a 1.42 ERA in 12 2/3 innings. All three could be in Arlington soon.
“I don’t have any idea what they’re thinking about that, but I think that’s what it came down to with me switching over to the bullpen,” Jackson said. “They just said the urgent issue right now is the bullpen.”
For now, Jackson is settling into his new role. He’s looking at it as a way to restart himself after struggling as a starter last season and through much of five starts in 2015.
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said. “It feels weird right now because I’m in the bullpen and getting hot out of nowhere, but I think I can get used to both roles. Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll fit right in. I’m already one week in and I feel like I’m ready to go.”
One of the advantages of the move, Jackson said, is that it takes less thinking.
“It’s just the heat of the moment, I get hot, get the adrenaline pumping, run in there and try to shut the door,” he said.
So far, the door has stayed shut.
Getting the check
When a major leaguer is in town, everyone eats better.
That’s how it goes when established players such as Josh Hamilton and Mitch Moreland take rehab assignments in the minors. They write the checks for deluxe pregame and postgame spreads for the entire team — think steak and shrimp.
Hamilton has moved from Round Rock to Double A Frisco, so the top-notch cuisine has probably moved north.
Chi Chi cha-ching
Round Rock right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez improved to 3-4 after holding Omaha to one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings Friday night.
Gonzalez has pitched well in five of his seven starts and earned his second consecutive win Friday.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760