Sands Appears to be Substitute in Two Senses

Permanency hasn’t always been a thing in Jerry Sands’ life. During his past few offseasons the left fielder has served as a substitute teacher for middle and high schools, but looks to make a more prominent impact in his true subject of expertise — baseball.

Sands spent roughly two-thirds of the 2011 professional baseball season with Triple-A Albuquerque. He appeared in 94 games with the Isotopes, blasting 29 home runs and hitting .278, before making his Major League debut with the Dodgers. Dressed in “True Blue,” Sands posted a noticeable .253 batting average with four homers and 56 RBI in 61 games.

He’s hoping it will be enough to get a phone call from the Dodgers this season for a full-time spot rather than a roster fill-in. Unfortunately, when Sands’ phone finally rang, it wasn’t quite the call he expected.

The Dodger hopeful’s phone rang at 4:30 AM with an automated call from Johnston County School District, looking for a substitute teacher for the day. Not exactly the type of news a full-time position seeker is hoping for.

“I want to be the starting left-fielder,” the 24-year-old Sands told the Globe and Mail last Thursday, a few hours after notifying the schools that he won’t be available for at least the next six weeks. “But no matter where they put me, I’ve got to show I can play.”

Sands has made a fair impression thus far in Spring Training, catching the eyes of Manager Don Mattingly, who is concerned about giving Sands the right amount of playing time.  Mattingly acknowledged a lack of at-bats could potentially stunt the growth of Sands’ Major League development.

However, ESPN reported today that Juan Rivera will get the “vast majority of starts in left field,” leaving Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jerry sands in reserve, bench spots.  Mattingly also suggested Rivera wouldn’t see as many as 150 games, leaving room for the Dodgers to “mix and match with Tony Gwynn and Jerry Sands as far as lefty-righty.”

While it seems playing time is all but set for Sands, it still is too early to pigeon hole the slugger as a Triple-A/Major League rotating player.  The season can bring about many kinds of opportunities through trades or injuries, and Sands has continually proven he can rise to the occasion. The full-time baseball commitment is much larger than a substitute teacher, but no one wants to give up chasing the big-league dream.  That, and the league-minimum salary of $480,000 definitely beats his other options.

I’m sure even Sands’ middle school students can appreciate that math.

Sands bunts during first full squad workout on February 28

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