GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While he knows his prospects have improved with Adam LaRoche’s departure, Jerry Sands said it won’t change how he operates.
The outfielder/first baseman is one of several candidates vying for the final two spots on the White Sox 25-man roster.
His bid to make the team has recently improved after the sudden retirement of LaRoche a week ago. But Sands already knew he’d have to prove to the White Sox he’s worthy of a roster spot after he they claimed him off waivers on Dec. 23.
Sands has hit .242/.257/.545 with three homers and eight RBIs in 33 at-bats this spring. He’s one of five players in competition for the final two spots on the roster along with Matt Davidson, Travis Ishikawa, Carlos Sanchez and J.B. Shuck.
“It doesn’t change what I’ve been doing,” Sands said. “Getting claimed off waivers, coming to a new team like I’ve been doing the last few years, just coming to camp, show them what I have regardless of the LaRoche situation.”
Sands said he wanted to work on several aspects of his game in camp --- “things that I’ve struggled with,” he said.
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One is to remember how to hit the fastball again. Hitting coach Todd Steverson said that skill can get dulled playing at Triple-A as Sands has for much of the past few seasons.
“You can kind of get off your game,” Steverson said. “Sadly enough, I used to say it all the time: the hardest thing you need to do coming from Triple-A back to the big leagues is to re-remember how to hit a fastball because they don’t throw a whole lot of them down there.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the fastball hasn’t been an issue for Sands this spring. The bigger task in Ventura’s mind is for Sands -- who would be an option at first base and in the outfield -- to show improvement against right-handed pitching. Sands has an .846 career OPS against southpaws but only a .569 against righties.
“He hasn’t seen too many righties in the big leagues the last few years, so you’d like to see him do that and get an idea about that,” Ventura said. “As far as swinging the bat and playing the game, he has been great.”
Sands said he feels comfortable in the outfield and at first base. He felt like he got off to a slow start, but likes how he has swung the bat lately. Even though his chances to make the team have improved, Sands wants to continue to make strides and convince the White Sox.
“(LaRoche retiring) helps me out a little bit, obviously, for a situation like that, for somebody to benefit from it,” Sands said. “But at the same point in time, the team is still going to have to go on and play without him. It hasn’t changed for me -- if he was here or not, I’d still try to do the same thing and show these guys what I got.”