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A-Jax faces Tigers for first time as a Mariner

A-Jax faces Tigers for first time as a Mariner

DETROIT -- For the first time, Austin Jackson veered right toward the visitors' clubhouse, instead of left toward the Tigers' headquarters, when he reached the bowels of Comerica Park on Friday.

Jackson, flipped from the Tigers to the Mariners at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, spoke about the deal and life in Seattle before the opener of this weekend's three-game series against his former team.

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The 27-year-old center fielder learned of his fate in bizarre fashion. Of the 41,306 who attended the July 31 Tigers game, Jackson was probably among the last to figure out what was happening as Rajai Davis trotted out to center field to replace him in the middle of an at-bat.

Chances are, a good portion of the Comerica Park crowd had already learned of the deal, which brought Saturday's starter David Price to Detroit, as the news spread via social media. Minutes later, Jackson found out, too.

"That was awesome that I was able to get that last standing ovation while I was running off," Jackson said.

The strange Deadline scene aside, Jackson said his move to Seattle has been "an easy transition, honestly." He joked that the toughest part of the swap has been adjusting to the three-hour time difference, which he said took a few days.

"The team welcomed me with open arms," said Jackson, who was in the middle of his fifth season as a Tiger. "They were pumped up to have me. That put me at ease a lot."

Easing the transition for Jackson was his new skipper, Lloyd McClendon, who served as Detroit's hitting coach for seven seasons, tutoring Jackson for four of them.

"I really got comfortable and built a connection with him [in Detroit]," Jackson said.

While the series between Detroit and Seattle began with Jackson in the batter's box as the Mariners' leadoff man, the most surreal moment of the weekend might not come until Saturday. If he's again at the top of the Seattle order, he'll be stared down by Price, whose availability at the Deadline ultimately brought Jackson's tenure as a Tiger to an end.

"When you get a player of Price's caliber," McClendon said, "you're going to give up something in return."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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