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DODGERS SPRING REPORT

Jerry Sands gives the Dodgers a power option

The 23-year-old outfielder/first baseman was third in minor leagues last season with 35 home runs and has hit two this spring, including a three-run shot Monday. He's expected to start season at double A, but he could fill a need at some point for power-starved Dodgers.

March 07, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
(Jake Roth / US Presswire )

Reporting from Scottsdale, Ariz. — In an ideal world, the Dodgers would say this about Jerry Sands: Have another great season in the minor leagues, and maybe we'll see you in September.

But the Dodgers figure to be strapped for power and, after the two bombs Sands hit Monday, well, never say never.

"I guess it depends on what's going on," Manager Don Mattingly said. "If we're getting production, it gives him an opportunity to develop. If there may be a need and you're not afraid of calling him up, at that point you make a decision."

Sands starred in the Dodgers' 7-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies, hitting a three-run home run and then a triple, deep into a center field where the wall is 410 feet from home plate. Sands, who is 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, appeared more excited by the triple.

"I definitely can't run like [shortstop prospect] Dee Gordon or somebody like that," Sands said, "but, when I get going, I can run a little better than people assume."

Outfielder Xavier Paul also hit a home run, giving the Dodgers two homers in one game after hitting three in their first 10 Cactus League games. Sands has two of the Dodgers' five home runs this spring; only one has been hit by a member of the projected starting lineup.

The Dodgers ranked next to last in the National League in home runs last year. Sands ranked third in the minor leagues with 35 home runs, split between Class-A Great Lakes and double-A Chattanooga.

He can play first base, left field and right field. The Dodgers plan to return him to Chattanooga to start this season. He is 23, and he has a bright future in an organization short on power, even if the major leagues are not in his future this summer.

"Power is an attribute every club is looking for, especially the last few years," General Manager Ned Colletti said. "We don't have a lot."

Pitching in

Ted Lilly made his spring debut, giving up one run over 3 1/3 innings. The Dodgers' starting pitchers have posted an earned-run average of 1.20 in the Cactus League.

With his rotation spot assured, Lilly threw his fastball, changeup and an occasional slider. He said he would mix in his curve in his next couple of starts.

The roughest part of his day was taking his first spring at-bat — against Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez. Lilly hit a weak comebacker.

"I need to get a little stronger," Lilly said, "or get a lighter bat."

Marketing buzz kill

The Milwaukee Brewers plan to use several relievers in Tuesday's game against the Dodgers. When Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke heard that Hiroki Kuroda would start for the Dodgers, Roenicke thought it would be nice for Japanese fans and media if he used Takashi Saito as Milwaukee's first pitcher — in essence, Kuroda starting against Saito.

The Dodgers later scheduled a B game against the Seattle Mariners for Tuesday, so Kuroda could start that game rather than letting the Brewers face him in consecutive starts. John Ely is scheduled to start against Milwaukee.

Mattingly said no one had alerted him to Roenicke's idea or asked him to reconsider using Kuroda against the Brewers for the marketing buzz.

"It's a good thought," Mattingly said.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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