Dodgers send outfielder Jerry Sands back to minors

Reporting from Denver

The Jerry Sands Project has been put on hold.

Still appearing clueless as to what they should do in left field, the Dodgers sent their top hitting prospect back to the minor leagues and promoted Australian outfielder Trent Oeltjen from triple-A Albuquerque.

Of the situation in left field, Manager Don Mattingly said, “It hasn’t really panned out.”


In the Dodgers’ 63 games through Wednesday, their left fielders had hit .216 with two home runs and 16 runs batted in. They have started six players at the position.

Sands, 23, represented the most recent of their failed attempts to fill the vacancy, hitting .200 with two home runs in 41 games. He was demoted to Albuquerque.

Mattingly went into spring training thinking that journeymen Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames could form a left-right platoon, with defensive standout Tony Gwynn Jr. spelling them late in games.

Although Mattingly claimed at the time that he liked where the Dodgers stood in left field, he said Thursday that “you kind of knew going in it wasn’t an ideal situation.”


Mattingly denied that he presented an overly optimistic view of his left fielders when he spoke about them in February.

“It was a scenario we thought we could play with,” Mattingly said. “And if everybody was healthy this whole time, who knows it doesn’t work out?”

Gibbons started the season on the disabled list because of vision problems. When he was activated in early May, Thames took his place on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps.

Gibbons was designated for assignment Monday to clear a place on the roster for Thames, who returned from a monthlong absence. Gibbons cleared waivers and was outrighted to Albuquerque, but he has not let the team know if he will accept the minor league assignment.


Had the Dodgers demoted Sands on Monday, they could have kept Gibbons. Asked why they didn’t do that, Mattingly said, “I don’t know, really.”

Was it worth potentially losing Gibbons to keep Sands in the majors for three more days?

“Gibby wasn’t giving us enough to basically have a guy that’s pretty much one-dimensional,” Mattingly said. “He’s not going to steal a bag for you. You have to defend for him.”

Gwynn started in left field Thursday. Mattingly said he would ideally like to start light-hitting Gwynn there regularly. But Mattingly said for that to happen, Casey Blake and Juan Uribe would have to make up for Gwynn’s lack of power.


Short hops

Oeltjen was hitting .339 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 56 triple-A games. ... Mattingly on Sands: “I haven’t changed my mind on what Jerry Sands is going to be.” … The Dodgers cleared a spot on their 40-man roster for Oeltjen by outrighting right-hander Luis Vasquez. … Like Gibbons, infielder Juan Castro cleared waivers and was outrighted to Albuquerque. Castro, 38, is pondering retirement. … Kenley Jansen struck out the side in a perfect seventh inning for double-A Chattanooga in a rehabilitation assignment. … The Dodgers are offering heavily discounted tickets at for their July 4 home game against the New York Mets. Reserve-level tickets are $4, loge-level tickets are $14 and field-level tickets are $24 when using the promotional code July4. The offer expires at 9 a.m. Monday.