In need of offense, Dodgers call up top prospect Jerry Sands

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After barely eeking out a 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep at home, the Dodgers made a move to address their hitting problems Monday, calling up top prospect Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Sands, 23, was one of the PCL’s hottest hitters in the early going, having already homered five times.  He was batting .400/.422/.875 with just three strikeouts in 10 games.  He drove in 17 runs all by himself.  The Dodgers, meanwhile, have scored 43 runs in 16 games.

With Sands up, the Dodgers will move away from the Tony Gwynn Jr.-Marcus Thames-Xavier Paul grabbag in left field.  Gwynn had been getting most of the playing time, but he was htiting just .256/.293/.359 in 39 at-bats.  Thames was doing better, but he’s a liability defensively.  Hopefully the club will give him starts at first base against left-handers, as James Loney was awful this spring and is only getting worse.  Paul was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Sands.

Sands will be making his major league debut.  The 2008 25th-round pick opened last year in low-A ball, but he ended up finishing it at Double-A and hitting 35 homers along the way.  He projects as a 25-homer guy for the Dodgers, though he probably won’t hit for strong averages anytime soon.  Regardless, it’s the right move for the Dodgers to give him a try.  No one else was likely to step up and become an everyday guy for them.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.