The Dodgers recalled red-hot Jerry Sands from Triple A Albuquerque on Monday, but the length of his stint on the major league roster is in question.
Sands has been on fire of late, hitting .388 with nine home runs in his last 17 games. The timing of the hot streak coincides with yet another swing change. Sands worked with Triple A hitting coach John Valentin and roving instructor Eric Owens to remodel his swing to resemble something close to his original swing, one that has been modified at least two or three times in Sands' estimation in the last two seasons.
Sands said he holds his hands higher now, above his shoulders, and that his shoulders are spread apart a little wider than his feet.
"It's been a trek. It's been tough. Hopefully it will all pay off and benefit me in the future," Sands said. "I'm a little more comfortable at the plate. It's a little bit easier to go up there and know what I'm doing."
To bring Sands up, the Dodgers got rid of Tony Gwynn Jr., a man whose playing time decreased with the arrival of Shane Victorino, but also a man with another year left on his contract. Monday marked the second time in five days that manager Don Mattingly had to deliver the bad news to a veteran getting cut, as Bobby Abreu was designated for assignment on Wednesday.
"Tony's been a special guy. He was a guy who worked and did everything we asked. He was a big part of the attitude and the way guys have worked this year and last," Mattingly said. "It wasn't a good day."
Normally unless injuries have decimated the active roster the Dodgers have been reticent to call up a young player only to have him sit on the bench. But Mattingly said that wasn't necessarily the case in calling up Sands this time.
"Right now it's the best 25 available. We're not trying to develop," Mattingly said. "We're going to play our best lineup."
Tonight against the Rockies Sands starts in right field place of Andre Ethier, who is just getting a night off against Drew Pomeranz, who is especially tough on left-handers. But Mattingly said he plans to continue his platoon of James Loney and Juan Rivera at first base.
"I hadn't really planned on (Sands) being (at first base). But obviously I didn't really know until the last couple days that he was going to be here," Mattingly said. "We'll see where we go with the AK thing. Once (Kennedy) gets here you get more of a better look at what we're going to do."
Adam Kennedy is due back off the disabled list as early as Friday, which will necessitate a corresponding roster move. Mattingly for obvious reasons declined to specifically discuss that pending move, but it seems there are two real options:
Designate Juan Uribe for assignment, removing the player who has all of three plate appearances in the last two weeks and is due $7 million next season in addition to his roughly $2.4 million remaining on this year's salary.
Option Sands, who is seemingly relegated to pinch hitter and spot starter when one of the outfielders rest.
Given the relative lack of playing time available for Sands, optioning him seems like the favorite, though it sure seems like the Dodgers went to an awful lot of trouble by designating Gwynn for assignment just for an extra right-handed bat as the Dodgers face a left-handed starting pitcher for two of the next three and three of the next four games.
Maybe Sands can buy some time with a hot streak, or maybe by embracing his hitting philosophy.
"Swing hard every time, just in case you hit it hard. That's my motto," he said.
|RF||Young (S)||LF||Victorino (S)
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket