For Jackson, A Starting Adjustment

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

PHILADELPHIA, May 29 -- A week ago, Damian Jackson had started only five games all year for the Washington Nationals. Then, he reeled off six straight starts -- all in center field -- during a stretch in which Ryan Church was sent to the minors and his replacement, Alex Escobar, went down with a hamstring injury.

"I think my body caught up to me a little bit," Jackson said.

That might explain Jackson's failure to execute a key bunt in Saturday's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jackson said his run of starts wore him down physically and mentally.

"I know for me, when I get in a situation like that, I put too much pressure on myself," said Jackson, in the midst of his 11th major league season. "I worry about getting the job done right away rather than just getting it done, period."

Jackson, who entering last night was hitting .250 and slugging .571 in 56 at-bats, said his adjustment to his sixth team in five years is taking time.

"I just have to feel out [Manager Frank Robinson], get to know when he's going to use me, get to know when I have to be prepared for what," Jackson said. "It's all part of the process. I have to get to know him just like he has to get to know me. There's a lot of guys getting used to not just him, but to the whole coaching staff."

Hill Must Wait

With a day off Thursday, the Nationals decided to skip Shawn Hill, the recently called-up right-hander, in the rotation.

"I'd like him to pitch," pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. "But we'll try to get him in there the next day."

Hill, who threw seven innings and allowed one run Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, could be used in relief during the weekend series in Milwaukee. The rest of the rotation will remain on its regular, four-day rest periods, with Ramon Ortiz, who has won three straight starts, pitching Friday against the Brewers. Hill's next start is now scheduled for June 6 at Atlanta.

"I assumed this is what they'd do," Hill said. "It's all right with me."

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