Jerry Sands got off to a rough start after the Dodgers called him up from Triple-A in mid-April, going 8-for-47 (.190) with 13 strikeouts through 11 games.
They stuck with the 23-year-old top prospect, trusting that he’d eventually get on track and live up to the promise he showed while destroying minor-league pitching, and Sands has responded by going 14-for-50 (.280) with seven extra-base hits and more walks (11) than strikeouts (9) in 19 games so far this month.
That includes his first career grand slam last night, which came just a couple days after his first career homer Sunday, and suddenly his .756 OPS ranks fourth on the team behind Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Casey Blake. James Loney, who Sands figures to eventually replace at first base, has a measly .579 OPS after posting a .723 mark last season.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.