New territory for Jackson, Kennedy

New territory for Jackson, Kennedy

PHOENIX -- For a news conference to introduce a pair of pitchers, there was plenty of talk about hitting Tuesday afternoon at Chase Field.

The D-backs officially introduced right-handers Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, both of whom were acquired in the three-team trade with the Yankees and Tigers during last week's Winter Meetings.

Both pitchers are coming over from the American League and were asked about having to swing the bat.

"I was drafted as an outfielder, so they've kind of thrown that on me that I had better be able to hit," Jackson said. "It's a lot of fun being able to help yourself out. The American League, you don't feel like you have the chance to help yourself out."

Jackson at least has some experience hitting from his time in the Dodgers' organization. Kennedy, meanwhile, is far more rusty.

"I haven't gotten an at-bat since high school, so it's going to be a little challenging for me," the former Yankees hurler said.

How the pair hit is certainly secondary to the D-backs, who look to Jackson and Kennedy to help stabilize their rotation.

Jackson made his Major League debut with the Dodgers at Chase Field on his 20th birthday in 2003. He faced off against Randy Johnson in that game and prevailed, 4-1. Jackson recalled Tuesday that he was not nervous before the start as he thought he should be.

The D-backs are planning on having him pitch in the No. 3 spot behind Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.

"I'm planning on coming in and keeping the ball moving in a positive direction," Jackson said.

Jackson is a power pitcher, and the key for him he said was being aggressive early in counts so that he can get ahead of hitters.

"It's big for me to come out throwing strikes early, set the tone early with the fastball," Jackson said. "That way I can mix my offspeed into the equation to keep them off balance and help put them away."

Kennedy does not throw as hard as Jackson, but D-backs GM Josh Byrnes cautioned against labeling Kennedy a finesse pitcher, pointing out that the pitcher hit 93 mph on the radar gun in the Arizona Fall League.

"I have to throw a lot of strikes and keep them off balance a lot more," Kennedy said. "I like the challenge of the game. I'm still going to throw a lot of fastballs even at 90, and I'm incorporating my two-seamer a lot more and try to keep you off balance mainly."

In addition to his fastball, Kennedy throws a cutter, a curve and a changeup. Though he has yet to throw a full season in the big leagues, Byrnes said a target for innings pitched for Kennedy was somewhere between 150 and 170.

While Jackson has been a regular in a rotation the past few seasons, heading to Spring Training as the No. 4 starter is a new experience for Kennedy, who was often the odd man out with the Yankees.

"You still have to earn your spot and do your thing during Spring Training, but it's a little more comforting that if you don't do well, you're not losing your job and you're not going down on the depth chart," Kennedy said. "It puts you more at ease."

Jackson will wear No. 36, while Kennedy will don No. 31.

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