Just before their exhibition game Friday night in San Diego, the White Sox made an announcement: Jerry Sands has more than a chance, he has a job. For Sands, 28, who has never made an Opening Day roster and has been in and out of the majors for the the last five seasons, it’s a triumph for a longtime baseball striver that is easily celebrated.
For the White Sox, they clearly picked the best option if we accept what they prioritized, since some of the superficial elements are pretty ugly. Sands didn’t have a particularly good Spring, hitting just .204/.259/.408 with three home runs even after Friday night’s impossibly clutch go-ahead RBI single, and his career numbers suggest he’s pretty much unplayable vs. right-handed pitching (Multi-year .197 TAv vs. RHP).
Sands is a specialist almost to the degree that Paul Konerko was in 2014, and since he’s the fifth outfielder without much defensive skill, he might be playing a similar role. Sands has a handful of major league appearances at first base, but over 200 games there in the minors. Robin Ventura even mentioned having Sands fill in at third when necessary, though it’s not clear why a team with three other players with third base experience would ever stick a guy with two career minor league games there to his credit.
Gerald Robert Sands is on the roster to hit left-handers (Multi-year .275 TAv), and it’s easy where the Sox are coming from in prioritizing this. After keeping Konerko on the roster as a lefty masher/historical novelty in 2014, the Sox pendulum swung to the opposite end in 2015, when they hit an AL-worst .240/.295/.350 against them. Backup catcher Geovany Soto was the Sox best option to hit lefties off the bench, but Ventura was hesitant to burn him for pinch-hitting. Now he has protection for when opposing managers try throw LOOGYs at him late in games, and some backup if Melky Cabrera‘s struggles against lefties become a multi-year issue.
If that doesn’t sound like a lot of uses for Sands; it’s not. He’s very specialized, and if he goes through a cold spot, his presence will lose its charm very quickly. Perhaps, for a team that will likely need a full-time solution if Avisail Garcia continues down his current career path, and recently came into a $13 million to more appropriately address it, that is part of the design.
Lead Photo Image: Joe Camporeale // USA Today Sports Images