NEW YORK — Orioles minor league outfielder/first baseman Conor Jackson – who was the final cut in major league spring training this season – has abruptly retired, Triple-A Norfolk announced today.
Jackson, who signed a minor league deal this offseason, had a spectacular spring, hitting .302/.327/.528 with three homers and six RBIs in 22 games with the Orioles. In the final days of spring training, the Orioles chose Steve Pearce over Jackson for the final spot on the Opening Day 25-man roster.
Jackson, 30, had back-to-back 15-homer seasons back in 2006 and '07 with the Diamondbacks, but never recorded more than 352 at-bats in a major league season since. He battled several injuries and missed most of the 2009 season with a case of Valley Fever, which sapped his energy.
This spring, Jackson said he believed his career turned a corner last season when he was able to benefit from getting 366 plate appearances at Triple-A Charlotte in the Indians system.
When Jackson was sent to the minors on March 29, the organization believed he'd benefit from getting every-day at-bats instead of playing a major league bench role. Jackson was optimistic he would get back to the big leagues.
"A lot happens during the season and I've been on teams where the 25-man roster starts one way and ends up a different way within six weeks," Jackson said when he was cut in the spring. "It's a funny game and things work differently. ... One of my main factors in choosing this team was the fact that they had so many guys and they used so many guys, and especially guys like me, kind of older guys, and they give them some opportunities, so that was the main reason I chose to come here."
He was 5-for-25 in nine games at Norfolk this season, compiling a .200/.333/.240 batting line.
Veteran outfielder Lew Ford, who was assigned to Double-A Norfolk because of the bevy of minor league outfielders at Triple-A, has been promoted to Norfolk to take Jackson's place.
Also on the minor league transaction wire, right-hander Alex Burnett, claimed on waivers from Toronto, was officially optioned to Norfolk and right-hander Rob Delaney was assigned to Class-A Frederick. Yesterday, left-hander Chris Jones, acquired from the Braves in the Luis Ayala trade, was officially assigned to Bowie and right-hander Tim Bascom was transferred to Bowie from Class-A Aberdeen.