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Edwin Jackson eager to put 18-loss season behind him

Updated: March 2, 2014 10:24PM

MESA, Ariz. — It’s hard to imagine a Cubs player more irritated by Saturday’s two rained-out exhibition games than pitcher Edwin Jackson, whose spring debut got postponed to Sunday.

“When you have a [expletive] season, naturally, as an athlete and a competitor, you want to come back and play the way you know how to play,” Jackson said.

The sooner the better.

“Clearly, I don’t think I’m an 18-game-losing pitcher,” said Jackson, who was among the worst starting pitchers in baseball last year in several categories, including that major-league-high loss total. “You get the itch a little faster when you have a season like that. That offseason goes way quicker just because you’re ready to get out there.”

So when he skies opened up, “It was a long day [Saturday] to say the least.”

The sun shone on Jackson just enough Sunday to give him the fresh start he’s been aching for since he responded to the first multiyear contract of his career with his worst season in six years.

His two innings Sunday included three strikeouts, a hit batter, a solo homer, a second-inning jam and a big first step toward putting a miserable 2013 behind him.

“Didn’t feel too bad for the first day,” he said.

For all the talk about Anthony Rizzo’s and Starlin Castro’s potential rebound seasons this year, nobody has more potential to make a bigger difference for the club based on how they finished in 2013 than Jackson.

“You take away 18 losses, and that makes last year’s record a lot better,” he said. “At the same time, you can’t try to overdo it. You can’t try to go out and be Superman if you’re not Superman.”

Even if you get paid more (at four years, $52 million).

“Edwin’s got a fantastic arm, and when he commands the zone, he’s an excellent pitcher,” manager Rick Renteria said. “You take a guy like that who’s very durable and hopefully as he continues to pitch, he’ll command the zone a little better.”

Said Jackson, who didn’t issue a walk Sunday: “It’s a good feeling to be able to come out and start 2014 fresh.”

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