Ventura's hunch pays off with Sands' blast

White Sox bench player makes most of start as DH

April 14th, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jerry Sands had been slotted into the White Sox starting lineup Sunday against the Indians, with Adam Eaton placed on the paternity list.

Sunday's contest was rained out, and Eaton returned to the team Monday in Minneapolis for the start of this six-game road trip.

"I said I'm going to have to wait for Eaton to have another baby to have another start," said a smiling Sands, following a 3-0 White Sox victory over the Twins Wednesday night at Target Field. "But no, you just wait, hope your name is up there and be prepared for it and do your job when you get in there."

Sands' name was up at designated hitter for Game 2 of this three-game set, giving Avisail Garcia a day off against Phil Hughes, who had retired Garcia in 11 of 12 previous head-to-head at-bats. Ideally, manager Robin Ventura would get the right-handed-hitting Sands in against a left-handed starter, with Sands hitting .292 for his career against southpaws and .198 against righties.

But Ventura's hunch paid off in the seventh inning, when Sands connected on a 1-2 cutter from Hughes for a two-run shot to center and the eventual three-run victory margin. On a cold Midwest night, Sands had to do more than barrel up that pitch to launch it over 400 feet. He also did it on a Hughes' offering that was far from center cut.

"He had been front-hipping some cutters to me all night once he got ahead, so I had an idea it was coming," Sands said. "He had been throwing it pretty good all night and dotting it up pretty good, but luckily he left one out over the plate."

"That was awesome, man," said White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, who earned the victory thanks in part to Sands' offense. "That was a tough pitch, [cutter] away. He saw it was down, he got up and got it, hit it out."

Prior to Wednesday's start, Sands had one at-bat this season. He struck out in his other three trips to the plate, including in the fifth inning of a then-scoreless game with runners on second and third and nobody out.

It was that at-bat where he made contact, though, which made all the difference. Sands illustrates the fact that for a team to start off 6-2, as the White Sox have -- not to mention five wins in six road games -- it pretty much needs contributions from players one through 25.

"You want a lot of guys chipping in to help you win games," Ventura said. "It's not like we're clubbing people 11-0 and everybody's getting four hits a night. So you're seeing guys come through, tough conditions all the time, the wind is blowing, moving the ball around. Nice to see those guys come through."

"Obviously that's how they hoped to construct the roster," Sands said. "You have different pieces you can plug in. You just try to do your job when you're called."