A’s give Conor Jackson his first career start at third base

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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.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.