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Jackson's strikeout total doesn't worry Leyland

Jackson's strikeout total doesn't worry Leyland

ARLINGTON -- Tigers rookie center fielder Austin Jackson leads the American League with a .416 batting average when he puts the ball in play. He also leads the AL with 155 strikeouts.

Jackson, competing for American League Rookie of the Year honors with Texas closer Neftali Feliz, could compete for a batting title one day if he keeps putting the ball in play and reaching base. So is it important now for him to cut back his strikeouts and put the ball in play more often?

"Important, yes, but to sit here and make a big deal about it is a mistake," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a rookie. He's struck out some. There's a lot of guys that strike out. If he cuts them down, that will be big.

"Right now, I don't want him to start patty-caking the ball not to strike out. So I don't like to talk about it. That's what guys do when they start shortening up to put the ball in play instead of swinging the bat, and I don't want that. I like the way he swings that."

Jackson is hitting .302 and has scored a rookie-best 94 runs and likely will go over 100 this season. He has the potential to score even more runs by cutting back on his strikeouts. It's still not a concern right now.

"What do you want a guy to do?" Leyland said. "This is his rookie season. Let him settle in, let him have his year and improve as he goes along. Look, you can't make stuff happen faster than it's supposed to happen. That's a big mistake when people do that."

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