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Suns notebook - Jackson a man of action

August 12, 2000

Suns notebook - Jackson a man of action



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


Brandon Jackson has been a huge presence for the Hagerstown Suns this season.

So big that the Suns infielder has gone unnoticed ... and to tell the truth, that's the way he likes it.

Jackson has cast a huge shadow while working as the invisible man. He quietly worked his way into the South Atlantic League batting race. He doesn't say much. He doesn't stand out in a crowd, but in no way is Jackson Hagerstown's version of Hollow Man.

He's just the closest thing the Suns have to a silent assassin. It's just his style.

"You got 140 some games, you can't be all rah-rah in the first few months," Jackson said. "You'd burn yourself out in the first few months. You have to pace yourself and exert yourself in places. You have to pick your spots."

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For Jackson, those spots are rare.

"I'm usually quiet on all the teams I have played on," Jackson said. "I've played on a lot of teams with a lot better players who have shined more. I just try to be steady."

Steady isn't always exciting, but it is effective.

Toronto's 16th pick in the 1998 draft had his 19-game hitting streak come to an end on Thursday, the best run of success by a Suns hitter this season. He went 32-for-74, a .432 clip, with five doubles, a triple and nine RBI. He raised his batting average 30 points to become the fourth leading hitter in the league with a .326 batting average. Heading into Thursday, Jackson was 10 points behind the pace set by Augusta's Lew Ford and Hickory's J.R. House.

"To tell you the truth, I don't pay attention to it," Jackson said. "I've just been trying to keep my same swing the whole year. I'm not trying to do any more or any less when I'm up there. I've been fortunate lately for the last couple of weeks where things have been going well."

Jackson has been hitting in bunches in this stretch with three-hit games on Sunday and Monday in Cape Fear and a two-hit outing on Tuesday against Hickory. He's been aggressive at the plate, but in a quiet manner.

Jackson has been incognito while battling through what has been largely a lackluster season for the Suns. He has been platooned much of the year. He was lost in the shuffle behind Reed Johnson, the outfielder who drew the most attention on a nondescript team before being promoted. With Johnson gone, Jackson has the unlikely role of team leader thrust upon him.

"I wouldn't say that I'm a 'leader,'" Jackson said. "But I do try to lead by example. I try to do the things that help because it is a long season. You try to eat right and you get a couple workouts in a week to keep yourself in shape. I have some extra help because my wife is here with me, so she helps keep me out of trouble."

And now, it's difficult not to notice Jackson since he is one of only five position players remaining from Hagerstown's opening day roster.

"This has been one crazy year," Jackson said. "There is only four or five of us position players left. Before now, we weren't sure if we would be playing from game to game. Teamwise, it's been tough for us to jell because of all the changes. You just have to go out there and take your at-bats and get your work in."

Now Brandon Jackson is serving notice to be noticed.

This day in history

August 13

1982 - Tim Maples pitches 5 2/3 innings of three-hit relief to lead the Suns to their fourth straight win with an 11-6 decision over Peninsula.

1986 - Ozzie Alfanzo allows two runs over 5 1/3 innings in his Hagerstown debut to lead the Suns to a 6-3 win over Prince William.

1998 - Joe Young pitches a four-hitter for seven innings to lead the Suns to a l7-4 win over Charleston (W.Va.).

Blasts from the past

Dunedin is threatening to sweep both Florida State League Western Division titles. Tony Peters leads the Blue Jays with has a .274 battng aveage and 12 home runs. Matt Logan is hitting .270. Orlando Woodards is 6-1 with a 1.81 ERA.

In Tennessee, Jay Gibbons continues to hit, batting .333 with 15 home runs and 60 RBI. Mike Peeples is hitting .283 with 16 homers. Pasqual Coco is 12-4 with 110 strikeouts and a 3.23 ERA.

Luis Lopez is still leading Syracuse with a .325 batting average with six home runs and 61 RBI. Kevin Witt has hit 18 home runs.

A look ahead

The Suns continue their longest road trip of the season, completing a two-game set with Delmarva today before using a travel day to head to Augusta and Savannah, Ga. Hagerstown split a series with Augusta in the first half but is 1-3 against Savannah.

Augusta is led by outfielder Lew Ford, who is one of the league hitting leaders with a .336 batting average, nine home runs and 71 RBI. First baseman Luis Garcia has 17 home runs. Pitcher Fred Baker is 11-5 with a 3.15 ERA.

The SandGnats, managed by former Suns outfielder Paul Carey, are challenging for the Southern Division lead. Savannah is led by third baseman Hank Blalock, who is hitting .291 with 10 home runs and 70 RBI. Jovanny Cedeno is their top pitcher with a 9-4 record and a 2.48 ERA.

Suns spots

Do you think Cape Fear's front office can't wait for its lame duck season to end?

The boxscore faxes after each game had a different name for drafty old J.P. Riddle Stadium.

On Aug. 4, it was Home of the Survivor. Then The Pride of the SAL. Followed by A League of Our Own. And finally J.P. Ridiculous.

I guess drawing 1,747 fans to the four games isn't cause for celebration. The franchise will be leaving Fayetteville, N.C. at the end of the season and relocating in Lakewood, N.J.

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