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Dodgers wait on their dream of Jerry Sands, reassign him to minors

March 17, 2011 |  6:10 pm

Everyone’s man-crush on Jerry Sands will have to be put on hold.

After Thursday’s game, the Dodgers reassigned the much-admired Sands  and shortstop Justin Sellers to their minor league camp.

The Next Great Thing will have to live for another day.

Which, come on, is the way it should be. Sands is their reigning minor league player of the year. He reeks of potential. He is most definitely in their plans, just not their immediate plans.

Remember, he split last season between Class-A Great Lakes and double-A Chattanooga. He tore it up at both levels, but this is still a player who’s  been in their minor-league system for only three years with half a season of double-A ball behind him.

He may even start the season back at Chattanooga, and then get moved up to triple-A Albuquerque at midseason. Maybe gets a September call-up.

But right now, he needs more at-bats. Needs some seasoning. Do not rush him.

I know, it’s hard. He’s 6 feet 4, 225 pounds and Manager Don Mattingly has compared him physically to Matt Holiday. And he was leading the team in hitting this spring (.364, with a .773 slugging percentage).

Plus, though listed as a corner infielder, he can play the outfield. And considering the Dodgers have no true starting left-fielder, I get the temptation.

It’s so dreamy and all, I get it. But the Dodgers are better served long term, and probably short term, to start the season with some three-headed combination of Jay Gibbons, Marcus Thames and Tony Gwynn Jr. in left and let Sands develop at something approaching a normal pace.

If they crash and burn, and Sands continues to own the minors, maybe he even gets called up earlier this season.

For now, let him develop. It would help if they felt certain which position was in his future. Outfield or first base (James Loney is 26), or do they try to groom him to take over for Casey Blake at third?

The Dodgers’ pipeline has dried up the past few years, but Sands could lead the next wave. If they just give him a little time.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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