Willing to try just about anything — well, short of calling up Jemile Weeks or Adrian Cardenas — to improve their lackluster lineup, the A’s have Conor Jackson starting at third base on Monday.
It’ll be the first career start for Jackson at the hot corner. He has played four innings there over two games this season. He also played there for two innings with the Diamondbacks in 2007.
Jackson was a third baseman at the University of California, so it’s not like he’s a novice. Still, no one seemed to think he’d have the skills to play the position in the majors. The Diamondbacks moved him to the outfield quickly after drafting him and later stuck him at first base.
With a .255/.333/.347 line in 98 at-bats, it’s not as though Jackson has really forced his way into the lineup with his bat. He has outproduced the Athletics’ other options at third, though. Kevin Kouzmanoff went hitless in his last three starts, dropping him back down to .198/.238/.333 in 111 at-bats, and Andy LaRoche is hitting .219/.288/.288 in 73 at-bats.
If there was ever a time for the A’s to experiment, now is it. They’ve been held to nine runs while losing their last five games.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.