Road Back to Bigs A Rocky One for Bucky

Bucky Jacobsen (Photo/Getty Images)

TACOMA, Wash - "BUCK-Y, BUCK-Y, BUCK-Y"... You can always tell when Bucky Jacobsen comes to the plate at Cheney Stadium. First of all it's tough to mistake him for any other player. He's listed at 6-4 and 270 pounds, but those are just numbers. Jacobsen is huge - think professional wrestler huge. But the biggest clue is the chant. No matter the score or situation, it's always the same, turning up the volume at the ballpark three notches.

"BUCK-Y, BUCK-Y, BUCK-Y"

He's a cult hero of sorts, and the fan favorite on the Rainiers roster, but it's been a tough year for the Buckster. He has missed almost the entire 2005 season recovering from surgery on his right knee.

After bouncing around the minors for seven seasons, Jacobsen finally got the chance to prove himself with the Mariners last year, and he showed a lot of pop, hitting nine home runs in 42 games with the big club. But now Jacobsen has been dropped from the 40-man roster and the future for the 30-year-old is in doubt.

If Bucky Jacobsen has any shot to return to the Major Leagues, priority number one is getting his right knee to 100 percent. It's readily apparent just by watching him play that the knee hasn't fully recovered, but Bucky hopes he can still be effective.

"The knee's feeling better," Jacobsen said. "It probably won't be 100 percent until sometime in the offseason, but it feels good enough to hit right now."

It may be good enough to swing the bat, but the big guy still has to worry about getting around those bases. Jacobsen admits that it has been a challenge for him so far.

"It affects me mostly when I'm trying to start out or slowing down," Bucky explains. "But I don't think it was very pretty when I was running before so I don't think it makes much of a difference now."

What has been different is Jacobsen's effectiveness at the plate. In the nine games since his return, he has gone 6-for-34 for a .176 batting average. Two of those hits have been doubles, but Bucky has yet to hit a home run for the Rainiers this season.

Jacobsen thinks he knows the key to getting back to form.

"I just have to be patient," says Jacobsen. "Up here guys know me from years past, and they know from time to time I'll chase bad pitches. I get kinda anxious up there and want to hit it hard. I'm not being patient. I've just got to sit back and relax and let it come to me."

Letting it come to you can be a challenge when you're joining a team in the middle of a playoff race, where every at-bat is important. Bucky also has to contend with the fact that everyone else in the league is playing with a four-month head start.

"It's somewhat different," Jacobsen said. "A lot of these guys have played with me before so it's not like I'm new. It's a good group of guys in the clubhouse and everybody comes in trying to win. We're playing pretty well right now but we've got to finish strong."

Finishing strong is also a priority for Jacobsen on an individual level - he wants to prove that he can be just as effective as he was in 2004. If he can make a full recovery, Jacobsen can provide power to a Mariners offense that could definitely use some pop.

Bucky hopes to feel, and play, well enough to earn that second look.

"I just want to get as healthy as I possibly can and have a good progression with the knee feeling better," says Jacobsen. "I want to make little adjustments to my swing here and there and hopefully get back up to Seattle in September sometime. Maybe I'll get to show something up there."

It's by no means guaranteed, and Bucky Jacobsen has a long way to go to get there. But if he has his way you'll be seeing him, and hearing fans chant his name, in Seattle soon.

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