Jackson hopes to avoid big innings

Jackson hopes to avoid big innings

TORONTO -- Despite a few rocky games this year, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon has liked what he has seen out of Rays starter Edwin Jackson.

"He's thrown the ball pretty well," Maddon said of Jackson. "What we've been seeing and what I like to see out of him, is that he's becoming assimilated into the game a lot sooner. He's not taking an inning or two, or 15 pitches, to get going. He's getting it from pitch one."

Maddon also praised the command Jackson has had of his fastball and slider.

A problem that the 24-year-old right-hander has faced thus far in his career, as well as his up-and-down 2008 season, is avoiding big offensive innings. An example of such an inning came in Jackson's last start, when the starter allowed the Red Sox to score five runs in the fourth inning. However, it is not something that has Maddon worried.

"I'm not overtly concerned," he said. "[Jackson] has grown a lot. The Red Sox, in that ballpark, they have a tendency to gang up on you on occasion."

With Jackson heading into his start against the Blue Jays on Thursday, Maddon said he has not approached the pitcher with any advice on avoiding big innings.

"I don't want to crowd his mind with any kind of negative thoughts," said Maddon. "I just want to see him go out there and pound the strike zone, fastball first, and I think he could be successful."

Pitching matchup
TB: RHP Edwin Jackson (2-3, 4.98 ERA)
Lifetime against the Blue Jays, Jackson is 0-2 with a 4.22 ERA.

TOR: RHP Jesse Litsch (4-1, 4.32 ERA)
In four career starts against the Rays, Litsch is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA.

Losing on Wednesday, the Rays are now 4-4 on their nine-game road trip. ... Maddon said before Wednesday's game that Cliff Floyd, who is recovering from knee surgery, will primarily see time as a designated hitter when he returns. "I'm not even planning right now on any outfield play [for Floyd]," Maddon said. "That may happen down the road possibly as his knee feels better, to get some work. But right now, I'm just thinking of him as being the DH when he comes back." ... Rays first baseman Carlos Pena has struck out in eight of his last nine at-bats.

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Up next
• Friday: Rays (James Shields, 3-2, 3.80) vs. Angels (Jon Garland, 4-3, 5.08), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Rays (Scott Kazmir, 0-1, 6.75) vs. Angels (Joe Saunders, 6-0, 2.61), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 5-1, 4.63) vs. Angels (Ervin Santana, 6-0, 2.02), 1:40 p.m. ET

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.