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Dodgers News: Andre Jackson’s Focus on ‘Staying Present,’ Breathing Pays Big Dividends

Dodgers pitcher Andre Jackson hasn’t had the season he had envisioned. After pitching pretty well in 10 games for Los Angeles in 2021, Jackson came into 2022 on the 40-man roster and expecting to get some playing time in the big leagues.

Instead, he spent most of the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, and things didn’t exactly go well for him there. In 75.2 innings pitched, he was 2-7 with a 5.00 ERA in 21 games. His biggest struggle was his command — his 17.2 percent walk rate was easily the worst of his career.

As a result, Jackson didn’t get into a game with the big-league club until mid-September and he’s pitched in just three games overall for L.A. in 2022. But in those three games, Jackson has thrown 5.2 innings and allowed just one unearned run, and his walk rate on 8.3 percent is less than half of what it was in the minors.

Jackson got a big test on Sunday when he threw three innings to save the Dodgers 106th win of the season. Coincidentally, his only other career save was also a three-inning save and locked down the 106th win of the season for the Dodgers on the last day of the 2021 season as well.

With one out and Juan Yepez at the plate, Jackson was temporarily confused by a loud ovation at Dodger Stadium.

As it turns out, Albert Pujols had just stepped into the on-deck circle to prepare to pinch-hit. For Jackson, it was a chance to practice some of what he’s learned from Dodgers “strong mind coordinator” AJ LaLonde, as J.P. Hoornstra reports in the Orange County Register.

“I’m just working on staying present,” he said. “Doing what I have to do, find tools to stay focused and locked in, come to the field the same every day. Getting my feet grounded and feel present so when I’m out there it’s my only focus. If I find things kind of coming in from different areas, or if the game situation? Pujols is coming up to bat? the first thing I tell myself to do is to breathe, instead of getting too big or too small.”

It worked. Andre threw a beautiful 3-2 changeup and got the future Hall-of-Famer to strike out swinging in his final regular-season at-bat at Dodger Stadium. For Jackson, the three shutout innings capped by the strikeout of Pujols were exactly what he needed for his confidence heading into the offseason.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot right now,” he said. “I know the season’s not over but it’s icing on the cake to know I can still get outs in the big leagues.”

With Yency Almonte expected back this week, Jackson’s time on the big-league roster might be coming to a close for this year. But his performance has been something to build on going forward.

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