Sands Sent Down For More Seasoning

On Monday, the Dodgers decided to keep Jerry Sands on the 25-man roster, and they were willing to designate Jay Gibbons for assignment to make that happen. On Thursday, they optioned Sands to the minors, calling up outfielder Trent Oeltjen to take his place.

Sending out Sands makes sense. He's in a 4-for-38 slump, since his grand slam May 22, dropping his slash line to .200/.294/.328 overall. The Dodgers want Sands to make adjustments, not let his confidence suffer, and return him to the majors when he's ready.

When asked why not send Sands out earlier in the week, manager Don Mattingly said, "Well, I just ... I don't know really. We knew Oeltjen was swinging good. It's always kinda borderline with Jerry, feeling like he's going to make adjustments. It got to the point where we thought it was time."

By waiting three days to send down Sands -- during which he was 0-for-6 with a walk -- the Dodgers likely have lost Gibbons in the process, although it didn't sound as if they were too disappointed.

"In our minds, Gibby wasn't giving us enough," Mattingly said. "To basically have a guy who is pretty much one-dimensional, he's not going to steal a bag for you. You're going to have to defend for him (late in games) when he's in there. He wasn't giving us quite enough to hold onto him."

Oeltjen, 28, made his big-league debut with the Diamondbacks in 2009, playing in 24 games and hitting three home runs. He made a brief September cameo with the Dodgers last September, going 5-for-23 (.217).

Oeltjen was tearing it up in the Pacific Coast League, a slash line .339/.429/.583 this year, including eight home runs and 34 RBI in 56 games.

Mattingly said Class AAA Albuquerque outfielder Trayvon Robinson, another of the Dodgers' upper-tier prospects, didn't have his name mentioned much when deciding who would replace Sands. The Dodgers want Robinson to keep developing every day in the minors.

Oeltjen will get some playing time in left field, but he's more likely to be a reserve. Sands' departure mostly creates more playing time now for Tony Gwynn, Jr. and Marcus Thames.

Gwynn started Thursday in Coors Field's spacious left field and went 0-for-4 in the Dodgers' 9-7 loss to the Rockies.

Mattingly was reluctant to start Gwynn in the same lineup with non-power threats Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles. Now that Casey Blake and Juan Uribe are off the disabled list, Carroll and Miles are reserves, so Mattingly feels more comfortable starting Gwynn to take advantage of his speed and defense.

The Dodgers still have big hopes for Sands. They intentionally didn't sign a veteran outfielder to a multiyear contract because they didn't want Sands' path to the majors blocked.

They'll mix and match until he's ready for another chance at the majors. In the meantime, they'll joke about the dream scenario for left field.

"The ideal situation is to have an All-Star at every position and then you win every night," Mattingly said, laughing. "Jerry isn't off anybody's radar. That being said, you have to win games now. The best situation was if the left field (platoon) worked out (between Gibbons and Thames), Jerry developed all season (in the minors), Dee (Gordon) developed all season, and maybe we see those guys late. It hasn't worked out.

"I know in my mind, it hasn't changed the type of player I think Jerry Sands is going to be."

NOTES, QUOTES
--LHP Clayton Kershaw ripped two more solid singles in three at-bats, raising his season batting average to .276, and he easily scored from first on a bunt by Dee Gordon that was errantly thrown into right field. On the mound, he took a two-hit shutout into the sixth before giving up three runs. After two singles and a walk to begin the seventh, that was it. All three inherited runners scored, leaving him charged with six runs in six-plus innings.

--Matt Kemp is carrying the club on his strong shoulders, falling a single short of a cycle against the Rockies and slamming his 18th home run. If he hits an extended slump, the club may slip back into the Pacific Coast League. After Dee Gordon, Casey Blake, Andre Ethier and Kemp, the Dodgers lineup went Juan Uribe (.216), Rod Barajas (.209), James Loney (.241), Dioner Navarro (.168) and Tony Gwynn, Jr. (.217), making life really difficult for rookie manager Don Mattingly to keep the club above water.

--LHP Scott Elbert (single, strikeout, walk) and RHP Mike MacDougal (single, hit batsman, walk) poured gasoline on the fire as the Dodgers' 7-3 lead evaporated in a five-run seventh.

--RHP Kenley Jansen (right shoulder inflammation) struck out all three batters he faced Thursday in his first rehab appearance for Class AA Chattanooga. He's scheduled to make at least one other minor league appearance before returning to the majors.

--LHP Hong-Chih Kuo allowed a leadoff double Thursday in his first rehab appearance for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He followed with a strikeout and two groundouts to end the inning. Since Kuo is returning from an anxiety disorder, there's no timetable for his return. It was his decision on when to face minor league hitters, and it'll be Kuo's decision on when to face major league hitters again.

--C Hector Gimenez, who had arthroscopic knee surgery April 26, went 0-for-1 with two walks Thursday in a rehab appearance for Class AA Chattanooga. Gimenez is 3-for-12 (all three hits are doubles) after five rehab games. For perspective, when manager Don Mattingly was asked about his injured players and gave a rundown before Thursday's game, he never mentioned Gimenez had even started his rehab assignment.

--RHP Luis Vasquez was outrighted to the minors make room on the 40-man roster for Oeltjen. Vasquez, 25, has no decisions and a 4.76 ERA through five appearances (5.2 innings) for Class A Rancho Cucamonga this season. --INF Juan Castro and OF Jay Gibbons cleared waivers this week and were outrighted off the 40-man roster. They haven't decided if they'll accept a minor league assignment. Castro went 4-for-14 (.286) in seven games with the Dodgers this season. Gibbons was 14-for-55 (.255) with one homer and five RBI in 24 games for Los Angeles.

--1B Scott Van Slyke, OF Kyle Russell, RHP Cole St. Clair, RHP Nate Eovaldi and RHP Will Savage will represent Class AA Chattanooga in the Southern League All-Star Game, which will be played June 21. RHP Rubby De La Rosa was also nominated, but he won't attend since he's in the majors now.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Career home runs by CF Matt Kemp at Coors Field, including a solo shot in the fourth inning Thursday that gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Kemp has also homered eight times at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, tied for his most in visiting ballparks. Kemp now leads the National League with 18 home runs, and after he added a two-run triple in the fifth inning Friday, his 53 RBI rank second behind Prince Fielder's 55. He doubled in the seventh, and he finished a single away from hitting for the cycle.

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