Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland let Arizona Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch know what kind of prized pitcher he was getting when the D-backs landed Edwin Jackson last winter.

Leyland joked with Hinch that he can insert Jackson into the rotation, go have a smoke and return six or seven innings later.

"I told him I have a little problem with that - I don't smoke - but I'll take the six or seven innings every time," Hinch said with a smile, recounting his exchange with Leyland during the winter meetings, when the D-backs acquired Jackson and Ian Kennedy in a three-team deal with the Tigers and the Yankees.

Jackson will make his first Cactus League start Saturday against the Giants in Scottsdale.

In Jackson, the D-backs received an All-Star who went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA in his seventh major-league season last year. Hinch has tabbed Jackson to start the second game of the season after Dan Haren and before former ace Brandon Webb, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. Jackson, a 26-year-old right-hander, adds a power arm to potentially one of the NL's best rotations.

"I love the fact I'm going to get to write his name in," Hinch said at the beginning of spring training.

Though he has pitched the last four seasons in the AL for the Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays, Jackson is well acquainted with the NL. After the Dodgers drafted him in the sixth round in 2001, he made his major-league debut in 2003 on his 20th birthday at Chase Field. He opposed Randy Johnson, whom Jackson grew up watching, gave up a run in six innings and came away with his first victory. Not a bad birthday gift.

"It happened so fast, I didn't have time to be nervous," Jackson said. "I didn't get nervous until like my third start. It was kind of weird. I looked around and realized, 'OK, you're pitching in the big leagues.'"

As for hitting in the NL, Jackson is 4 for 30 in his career, and he was originally drafted as an outfielder.

"I'm not saying I'm going to hit everything, but I'm not afraid to get in the box again," he said.

Jackson faced current teammates Conor Jackson, Miguel Montero and Stephen Drew when he was in the Dodgers organization. But as for the Arizona batter he'll remember the most, "Luis Gonzalez, he was my nemesis," Jackson said.

Jackson said he wasn't expecting to be traded, but he knows the game is a business.

"It's when they're trying to trade me and nobody wants me, that's when we have a problem," he said with a smile. "If somebody wants me, I'm good. I'm cool."

Inside pitch

• Kevin Mulvey and Kennedy will start split-squad games Sunday against the Rockies. Rodrigo Lopez will start Monday against the Indians.

• Outfielder Gerardo Parra, who suffered a quad strain in winter ball, has no restrictions and ran the bases Monday but likely won't play the first game Thursday because of the rotation, Hinch said.

• Eric Young Jr. played left field and went 2 for 3 with a walk in the Rockies intrasquad game Monday. Ian Stewart went 0 for 3 with a run and a walk. The "away" team won 3-2.

UP NEXT

• Who: Rockies at D-backs

• Where: Tucson Electric Park

• When: 1:05 p.m. Thursday