The Dodgers exercised an option on Jerry Sands today and assigned him to their minor-league camp, reducing the major-league camp roster to 39.
Sands had been hitting .158, his sixth hit in 38 at-bats serving as the game-winning RBI single in yesterday’s 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“More than anything, we’ve got to let Jerry in our minds, let him settle down and get his swing back together, let him get to work and just get ready to play,” manager Don Mattingly said.
After Monday’s game, Sands admitted he’s been a bit off while trying to make adjustments to his swing during camp. Visibly, his swing didn’t look the same as it did last season with the Dodgers, when he hit .253 (50-for-198) with four home runs and 26 RBIs.
“Small things can throw big things off,” he said. “Going up to the plate worried about things going on with my swing and not worried about picking up pitches – it’s tougher than it looks up there. I’ve just kind of been out of it so far. I’ve got to get back to seeing some pitches.”
Now he’ll get that chance. Mattingly said that Sands is still the team’s “best option” in the long run to come off the bench and spell Andre Ethier or James Loney against left-handed pitchers.
“We just need to simplify things, get him back to work, get him out of the thought of this team right now,” Mattingly said. “Get him back to where he puts himself back together, and have a shot to be able to help us when he comes back.”
With Sands out, several players are still in the running for the final position player spot on opening day. Mattingly specifically mentioned infielders Justin Sellers, Luis Cruz and Josh Fields. Sellers is on the 40-man roster; Cruz and Fields would need to be added.
“We don’t know who it’s going to be,” Mattingly said.
Additionally, the Dodgers placed Blake Hawksworth on the 60-day disabled list, and officially announced the signing of Jamey Wright and added him to the 40-man roster.
“We’ve just got to figure out how we’re going to, again, we have certain guys with versatility who give you different options to go different directions. The guy I’m really talking about is Jerry Hairston. (as an infielder outfielder) That allows us the flexibility to go different directions with that spot and basically keeps everybody in the mix.
“I’ve been feeling pretty brutal just trying to work on some things, changes here and there, just trying to get comfortable now after making some changes and altering some stuff. I’m trying to get rhythm and timing. Just trying to get comfortable in the box seeing some pitches.
Regardless of what happens, I’ve just got to work on me, get me right, work on that.”
“I don’t really know -mainly I went home, worked on some things, came back, just things that needed to be changed here, people thought needed to be changed, just little things that people think I need to work on. Small things can throw big things off. Me going up to the plate worried about things going on with my swing and not worried about picking up pitches. It’s tougher than it looks up there. I’ve just kind of been out of it so far. I’ve got to get back to seeing some pitches.
Picking them up, and then sometimes when I do pick ’em up, hitting them, making contact. It’s pretty tough just to do all these changes, then to be successful at the plate, day in and day out during the games with those guys throwin 95 up there. Just getting good pitches and not missing.
Obviously you like the help and people trying to help you. Everybody’s a differnt hitter. It’s tough when you have one guy who knows how to hit this way, one guy who knows how to hit this way, one guy who knows how to hit this way, and they all want to help you. I love listening because I know I don’t know all of it and I’ve got a lot to learn. I wouldn’t say too many voices because I like people helping me, but obviously concentrating on things, sticking to things, is what I need to work on.
I hope so. Obviously it’s going to take some time up there at the plate.
“The guy that’s getting the message hears it differently,” Mattingly said. “I think there’s been a lot of good intentions to get Jerry on the right track, to get him back to where we think he should be. I really feel it’s caused him this confusion.
We just need to simplify things, get him back to work, get him out of the thought of this team right now. Get him back to where he puts himself back together, and have a shot to be able to help us when he comes back.”