VERO BEACH, Fla. — Rookie starter Edwin Jackson apparently moved closer to beginning the season in the minor leagues after struggling Monday in a 5-1 loss to the Florida Marlins at Holman Stadium.
The 20-year-old right-hander was chased in the Marlins' three-run fifth.
Jackson (1-2) gave up nine hits -- including Abraham Nunez's leadoff home run -- and four earned runs in four-plus innings. His earned-run average increased from 8.59 to 8.68, stirring further doubt about whether the organization's 2002 minor league pitcher of the year is ready to join the rotation.
"It's the same thing all spring -- that one big inning," Jackson said. "I got behind a couple of dudes, and they hit the ball hard.
"I'm not really unhappy, some things just haven't been going my way, but I can't control that. All I can do is go out and keep pitching." Jackson is scheduled to pitch again Saturday against the Angels at Angel Stadium. And after that?
"I've had the same opinion all spring long: This guy is going to be a great pitcher in the major leagues," General Manager Paul DePodesta said. "We're still trying to make sure that we do the right thing for his development."
Manager Jim Tracy has made comments about the rookie being the fifth starter and reaffirmed his position Monday, saying Jackson "had a decent outing."
But the Dodgers might use a four-man rotation in April and May because they have eight days off, meaning Jackson might start the season at triple-A Las Vegas.
"He's the fifth starter," Tracy said. "What we decide to do as far as the fifth starter is concerned, as to when he pitches, still remains to be seen."
Jackson is eagerly awaiting a decision.
"Who am I to think what I deserve," he said. "I get paid to go out and play. That's all I do. Any other decisions come from the staff. If I don't break with the team, I'll just work at whatever I need to work at to get back up here."
DePodesta returned to his roots in moving to address the team's need for a left-handed batter on the bench, acquiring Jason Grabowski from the Oakland Athletics for $30,000.
DePodesta, formerly the Athletics' assistant general manager, moved quickly after Jeremy Giambi, the only in-house candidate for the left-handed pinch-hitter role, suffered another back injury Saturday.
"He's a left-handed hitter who has both patience and power," DePodesta said of Grabowski. "He can provide a home run in a pinch-hit situation, but he also has great versatility."
Grabowski, 27, plays every outfield position, first base, third base and was drafted as a catcher by the Texas Rangers. He played 12 games combined with Oakland the last two seasons.