SAN DIEGO — Jerry Sands is the 25th man on the White Sox roster.
Manager Robin Ventura made the announcement before Friday’s exhibition against the San Diego Padres that the slugger has won the final spot on the team’s active roster.
Sands, who has played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays, plays outfield, first base and even could be used at third base in a pinch. The White Sox like that he has an .846 career OPS against left-handed pitchers. Sands, who is out of major league options, has been seen as a front runner in a competition with first baseman Travis Ishikawa and several others since Adam LaRoche retired last month.
“Those aren’t easy decisions, but knowing what your roster needs to be and what you think you’re going to need, he’s the guy you end up taking,” Ventura said. “First, outfield, he’ll mop up third if we need him to. If we need somebody to come off the bench and hit a lefty, we’ve got him to be able to do it. He has a great number always against lefties. In the past we have not had that great of a look from that side if they bring in a lefty from the bullpen. He does a lot of things we’ve been looking for, and we’ve played against him enough that we’ve seen him.”
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Sands hit .188/.245/.396 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 53 Cactus League plate appearances. For his career, he’s a .292/.339/.506 hitter with six homers in 165 plate appearances vs. southpaws. Last season, the White Sox offense finished with a .645 OPS against left-handed pitchers while they had a .700 OPS vs. righties.
Whereas Sands — who has no minor-league options left — had limited chances of making the team early in camp, his odds greatly increased when LaRoche abruptly retired last month.
“With the LaRoche situation, I knew something opened up there,” Sands said. “I came into camp and have done it the last few years with new teams, kind of show them what you got and go from there. Obviously I didn’t have the greatest camp in the world. But I felt like I accomplished a few things I wanted to even though the numbers didn’t show it.”