Never having been the same since he contracted Valley Fever in 2009, slugger Conor Jackson told the Baltimore Orioles he was retiring, it was reported Sunday. Jackson, who reportedly was the O's last cut of spring training, was batting .200/.333/.240 in 30 plate appearances for Class AAA Norfolk.
Jackson, who turns 31 years old in May, was an effective first baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2006-2008, averaging .292/.371/.451 with 14 home runs, 29 doubles and a 184-166 strikeout/walk ratio. He was part of a young wave of D-backs talent — along with Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, Miguel Montero and even a 20-year-old Justin Upton — that got them to the NLCS in 2007.
But then Jackson got sick, sustained other injuries and has been ineffective ever since, hitting .232/.312/.323 with eight homers in 741 plate appearances for the D-backs, Athletics and Red Sox. He's also been with the Rangers and White Sox organizations.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told MASN that he respects Jackson's decision to move on with his life, even if it took him by surprise:
"He's got a lot of things going for him. He's a smart, well-educated guy who can do other things in his life than play in Norfolk, and I respect that."
What else can Jackson do? Well, he majored in theater at California and has appeared in a number of productions, including an episode of "General Hospital" back in '09 as a physical therapist. He also did two commercials with Christopher Lloyd for "Back to the Future: The Ride" when he was 9 years old. It might be hard for Jackson to equal the career of his father, the underrated character actor John M. Jackson, and he might not want to act at all.
Regardless, he's got to do something else with his life. It just goes to show how quick a career in baseball can be over.
The next question could be what might be happening with Ike Davis of the New York Mets? He also contracted Valley Fever, in 2012, and his performance suffered greatly in the first half of the season. However, he slugged .542 in the second half — the kind of comeback Jackson never mustered.
Davis is off to a slow start in 2013, but he otherwise doesn't show the symptoms of Valley Fever, a fungal infection that attacks the lungs and saps your strength. Sometimes a slow start is just a slow start.