SAN FRANCISCO — Over the winter, as Edwin Jackson and his wife were doing a little de-cluttering, the full extent of his travels as a major-league pitcher struck him.
Back in 2003, when Jackson debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Rickey Henderson and Fred McGriff were his teammates. Since then he has played on 12 more teams, picking up more souvenirs at every stop.
“I had a chance to go through some bags and reminisce,” he said. “A lot of bags, a lot of jerseys.”
Starting Wednesday, that collection will grow a little more. Jackson, now 35, will play for his 14th big-league team when he debuts for the Blue Jays, breaking a tie with fellow journeyman Octavio Dotel.
“I can’t lie,” Jackson said from the dugout at Oracle Park Tuesday. “It’s fun to be in a group of my own, but it’s not something that I was necessarily chasing.
“I feel like it’s a good trivia board question: ‘Who holds the record for the most teams?’ I’ll enjoy it. Every record is meant to be broken, so until that record is broken I’ll be the only one with 14 jerseys and 14 bags and 14 different coloured gloves and spikes.”
Somehow it’s fitting that Jackson would break the record with the Blue Jays. They’ve shown interest in signing him during each of the last two off-seasons without reaching a deal. And, technically speaking, he was a Blue Jay for a matter of hours in 2011, when then-GM Alex Anthopoulos acquired him from the White Sox only to flip him to the Cardinals along with — who else? — Dotel for a package of players including Colby Rasmus.
“It feels like a repeat,” Jackson said. “Déjà vu. Only this time I’m going to stick.”
Given the state of their starting rotation, the Blue Jays certainly hope so. With Clay Buchholz, Matt Shoemaker, Ryan Borucki and Clayton Richard all on the injured list, the Blue Jays were down to three starters for a while: Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Trent Thornton.
That led to the trade for Jackson, who had re-signed with Oakland and begun rehabbing in the minors after posting a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts with the Athletics last season.
If he can provide steady innings as a back-end starter, the Blue Jays would surely be pleased. Any leadership Jackson can provide off of the field would be a bonus.
“In the clubhouse, he’s awesome,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He’s a great dude. A veteran like that, it’s great timing.”
In spring training, Stroman said the Blue Jays don’t have enough veteran leadership. Since then the Blue Jays have traded away Kevin Pillar and Kendrys Morales, so Jackson’s 16 years in the big-leagues give him seniority in a relatively young clubhouse.
A 2009 all-star, Jackson has a no-hitter and World Series ring on his resumé. Plus, he has built a reputation as a good teammate over the years. Now, for the 14th time, he hopes to show why.
“The first thing some people think when you’ve been on so many teams is, ‘Is he a bad person, is he a bad seed?’” Jackson said. “I take pride in coming to a team and having a good rep on my name. I’ve seen a lot of the game and all I want to do is spread my wisdom around the clubhouse.”
Chances are, he’ll do so relatively quietly. Jackson’s version of leadership consists of leading by example with the understanding that others are always watching.
“Once you put out positive vibes, people attract to that,” he said. “I don’t have to come here and do anything overly special. I just go about my business the way I go about my business and people watch. Everybody’s not necessarily asking questions, but I feel like a lot of people watch what you do.
“I’m not coming in to be a superhero or a save-the-team-type guy. I’m just coming in to be myself and I feel like myself is enough.”