FutureBacks Q &A: Conor Jackson

Conor Jackson had his offseason workout regimen interrupted last weekend by 'Rookie Camp,' a collection of the best and brightest young ballplayers...sitting in a room listening to people talk about things only vaguely related to baseball. Jackson talked to FutureBacks about his rookie camp, the press, Carlos Quentin's future, and the advantages of having an actor for a father.

FutureBacks:  You spend last weekend at Rookie Camp:  What is it?

Conor JacksonIt was interesting, I enjoyed it, but essentially it was a lot of meetings where you sit down with financial speakers who teach you how not to lose your money, what to watch out for, doctors talking about all the drug policies, stuff like that.  Clubs can send between two and five of their players, young guys, and I was out there will Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Chris Young and Miguel Montero.  The thing I took the most from was an ex-mafia guy they had talking to us about gambling, how we could get approached and such.  There was a lot of information, but it was a little tough, just because it was five days right as you are amping up for spring training.  It's a five hour flight to DC, and then you're out there for five days, so the timing was a little tough, but there was a lot of information.

The best part for me was to see all these young prospects, guys I know really well who I haven't seen in awhile, and young guys who are on the way up that I hadn't met yet.  I know of most of the guys that I didn't know already, because minor league baseball is really two degrees of separation. 

FutureBacks:  How has the offseason been?

Conor Jackson:  I can't complain, I've been working out at API, and working hard.  I know this is the first year when I'm not going to be going into spring games in the seventh inning anymore, so it's exciting.  I think this is a really big spring for me, the biggest one yet anyway.  I'm trying to prepare myself mentally and physically for the season, and I know I'm already more prepared than I was the last two years. 

It's not that it's a different philosophy, but I didn't end the season on the right foot last year.  I came into the offseason just trying to erase the end of '05 from my memory, and feel good about 2006.  I like to start strong, I think everybody does, but for me, this year, I think it's especially important that I get off to a hot start in the spring. 

FutureBacks:  I know it's probably at lest two years off, but how exciting is an infield of you, Justin Upton, Drew, and Chad Tracy?

Conor Jackson:  I guess after we signed Upton everybody was saying we have one of the elite minor league systems in baseball.  Young is just a player, a great center fielder and he can hit a ton, Carlos is Carlos, he's going to be a star, and Montero, I haven't seen him too much, but everyone I talk to says he's just incredible.  But that's a long way off, and I try not to stop and think about that too much.  You get yourself in trouble when you start looking ahead.  It's the same way when you start looking ahead in your career or for your team.  You have to look at today, not tomorrow, I know that's a cliché, but it's what you have to do.

Which reminds me, another thing they did out at that rookie camp was bring Howard Reynolds in to talk about dealing with the press.  It was really interesting, and I think it helped a lot of guys, but maybe not as much for me. 

FutureBacks:  Well, you've had the spotlight on you for a long time, so you're probably a little more versed in dealing with the press.

Conor Jackson:  I don't want to sound arrogant, but I have been dealing with it longer, if for no other reason than I'm in a family where my dad is an actor and I've had attention and been asked about that since high school.  I got press because of my dad, so I had to work at it, learn how to give an interview and learn what to say and what not to say, because you have to be good at it or you're done.  You can make or break yourself in the press. 

Luis Gonzalez has been a guy I've looked to for that, because he has done an excellent job, so good he's the face of the Arizona franchise.  Of course he's had an unbelievable career, he's been an All-Star, he's won a World Series, but the biggest thing is that he knows how to talk to the press. 

FutureBacks:  You've talked about how Tony Clark has been a mentor to you at first base, he's a vet, has he helped with the press aspect?

Conor Jackson:  Absolutely.  Last year there were some things printed that I said about Wally Backman.  Someone was questioning Bob Melvin, and asking if Backman would have done a better job.  I love Wally, and I said some things.  If you had been there, heard me say what I said, there's no way it could have been taken badly about BoMel, but in print, when you read it, it sounded bad, and I knew it as soon as I said it.  Clark and Gonzo and some of the guys came over and they talked to me, and so did BoMel, and they just reminded me that this is part of the game, and you have to close your mouth, because if you say something joking, in print nobody can tell.  I go to Gonzo and I love to pick his brain about it.  Like I said, he didn't become the face of the Diamondbacks for nothing, he worked at it, and I want to learn from him.  He started the whole Diamondbacks thing, since almost the beginning he's been the guy, and there's a lot I can learn.

FutureBacks:  Where are you at in preparation for the season?

Conor Jackson:  I'm working really hard on my defense, because I just want to be more confident in myself and my throws.  I didn't find out I was going to be playing first base until I got to Spring Training last year, so I didn't prepare as much as I would have liked last year.  This year I'll be ready.  I'll start hitting this week, and do more and more of that at API.

FutureBacks:  How big is it for you to have Orlando Hudson at second base?

Conor Jackson:  It takes so much pressure off me.  I basically never have to move to my right, because that's a Gold Glover right there.

FutureBacks:  A lot has been made of Chad Tracy's defense, is that something that worries you?

Conor Jackson:  Not at all and Tracy and I are going to start working together defensively so that we're at the top of our game, so that we can be really good defensively.

FutureBacks:  Have you talked to Josh Byrnes?

Conor Jackson:  I haven't, but I have heard nothing but good things.  I have a lot of buddies in the Red Sox organization, and a lot of friends in and around Boston, and everything I've heard has been positive.  The Boston press, the players, they loved working with him, and I look forward to working with him.  The biggest thing is that he knows how to win, knows what it takes to get in the mix.

FutureBacks:  What do you think about the moves that he's made?

Conor Jackson:  That's one of those questions I'm not supposed to answer (laughs).  I know Sergio Santos real well, and he took the move really well.  He was blocked because of Drew, and now Upton too, those guys are maybe the #1 and #2 prospects in the nation right now, so he knew it was probably better for him to get moved.  Sergio's only 21, and he's going to be real good.  I can see that move both ways, from his perspective and the Diamondbacks perspective, and so can Sergio.  He's not bitter about it at all.  If anything he was excited, and the Diamondbacks are looking at it as a situation where they are ready to go out and win right now.  We're going to be good now, and we're going to be good two years from now, and that move made us better.

FutureBacks:  Carlos Quentin has talked pretty openly about how he was disappointed that he wasn't called up last season.  I know you and Carlos are close, and it looks like the way things are right now he probably won't make the big league roster out of the spring, because the outfield is set.  How do you see that situation playing out?

Conor Jackson:  That's a tough situation for everybody.  He and I are really close on and off the field, and we've talked about it and we've both said the same thing.  We're 23 years old, and we're going to get our shot.  The one thing I told him is that he can't be bitter, because it will affect how you play.  He knows it's not the club's fault, it's not a situation where they are trying to hold him down, and he knows that the best thing he can do is go out and put up the numbers.  I wanted to make the club last year, and I didn't, but I went into Tucson and put up the numbers and got the call.  Everybody is going to go through this, we all want to be in the bigs right now.  If Carlos does go to Triple-A, and goes in with the right attitude and starts hot and stays hot, they will have to do something, will have to give him the shot, and he knows that. 

FutureBacks:  Do you think he'd be better off sitting on the bench in the Majors or playing everyday in Triple-A?

Conor Jackson:  We're not all going to be Jeff Francoeur.  You can look at Cal Ripken, and there's a lot of guys who started sitting on the bench and waiting their turn and then got their opportunity and made the most of it. 



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