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Tigers working to get Jackson back Tuesday

Tigers working to get Jackson back Tuesday

LOS ANGELES -- By most appearances as Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson began talking with reporters in front of his locker Sunday morning, he had escaped serious damage from the Ramon Troncoso fastball that hit him in his helmet Saturday. Precautionary tests came back negative, and he said he was alert and attentive throughout the process.

He was saying this as his left side, the side of his head that was hit, was facing his locker. Then he turned, revealing his left eye that was swollen almost completely shut.

"Whoa," one teammate said, stopping on his way past to express what everyone else was thinking.

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"I'm good," Jackson said. "It's just my eye's a little puffy."

The swelling had worsened overnight, Jackson said. He had tried to watch a movie when he got back to his hotel room from the hospital Saturday night, but that wasn't going to work out. He soon fell asleep instead.

"It was swollen, but it wasn't like this," Jackson said. "I was mad this morning because it took me a little longer to shave my head. I couldn't see my whole left side, so I didn't know if I had hair there or not."

The left eyelid is cracked open just enough for Jackson to see a little bit.

"I can see down," Jackson said, "but if I have to look straight [ahead], I have to sort of lean my head back."

Not surprisingly, Jackson isn't going to play like that. Manager Jim Leyland ruled him out of Sunday's game before leaving the park Saturday night. He was uncertain whether he'd have Jackson for Tuesday's series opener at Seattle, but head athletic trainer Kevin Rand apparently sounded optimistic.

"Kevin seems to think he'll be ready Tuesday," Leyland said. "He thinks if you really work at it, it'll be fine by Tuesday. But I'll take all precautionary measures."

Said Jackson: "I know I'm going to be OK. Just got to get the swelling down first."

For different reasons, he didn't have a good look at the pitch that hit him, either. With twilight conditions at Dodger Stadium in the eighth inning Saturday, and Troncoso having tried to throw a sinker inside a couple pitches earlier, Jackson stayed in the batter's box until he had no chance to back away in time.

"I didn't see it," Jackson said. "When the pitch was coming in, I saw it at the last moment and tried to duck my head out of the way. Just thankful it didn't hit me in the face. It was already on me before I could do too much."

At no point, Jackson said, did he lose consciousness. But he did lose attention for a while.

"I was like in my own world," Jackson said. "I didn't know what was going on. I remember somebody handing me a towel and some water. I was like, 'What am I going to do with this?'"

Not much. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand was at his attention almost immediately, and he helped Jackson back to the clubhouse. Jackson saw a replay of the pitch while he was waiting to be taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in nearby Pasadena, Calif.

Initially, Jackson said, he thought the ball hit him directly in the eye. Once he saw the replay, he saw the ball hit the bill of his helmet, knocking that up against his head, just above the eye.

He didn't think it was an intentional pitch when it happened, and he didn't think it was intentional after he saw the replay. He's just glad it wasn't worse.

"There's no hard feelings," he said. "I know he didn't do it on purpose."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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