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Dodgers' plans: Jerry Sands getting long look at first base

Sands_640 Like James Loney doesn’t need more bad news.

Down at triple-A, guess who’s suddenly playing a lot of first base?

Hoped for wunderkind Jerry Sands.

Sands is the one prodigy the Dodgers are hoping can provide future power. He is their reigning Minor League Player of the Year. He is the star they need to rise.

They also need to figure out what’s his best position, or maybe where their biggest need is.

If the Dodgers determine it simply doesn’t make financial sense to tender Loney this offseason, that leaves them without a regular first baseman. Certainly, without a long-term one. They might think about bringing Juan Rivera back as a stop-gap, but it would have to be at a substantial cut from the $5.25 million he’s earning this season.

Sands’ normal position is outfield. He has mostly played right field for the Albuquerque Isotopes, but lately spent more time at first.

Even with Isotope outfielder Trayvon Robinson traded Sunday, Sands has started the last three games at first. He’s started at first 27 times this season to 44 in the outfield, but he’s trending more toward first base.

This doesn’t mean the Dodgers have decided Loney is definitely out and Sands is being groomed as his replacement. It does mean the Dodgers are at least wisely giving themselves options.

Just as when the 2010 season began, they are going to be searching for a starting left fielder next year. And when the Dodgers traded Robinson, General Manager Ned Colletti made a point of saying Sands was rated ahead of him in the outfield.

But just as it is easier to find a starting outfielder versus a catcher, it’s easier to find a starting outfielder than a first baseman. Or at least it should be.

Sands scuffled in July (.202), but has homered in his last two games and appears back to the form that earned his initial call-up in April. Remember, last year he started the season at Class-A ball.

He’ll turn 24 next month. His time is coming. And right now, it could be at first.

ALSO:

James Loney sees chance to prove himself dwindle

This time Dodgers can't muster a run in loss to Padres

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Jerry Sands with the Dodgers in May. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

 
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