By Chris Robinson / Albuquerque Isotopes | April 16, 2012 10:35 AM ET
What started as a nightmare of a season for 'Topes utility fielder, Jerry Sands, has quickly taken a 180 degree turn to assume a new, promising look.
Or should I say a .438 turn, for his batting average over the last five games.
After a disappointing performance through big league Spring Training, Sands continued his skid into the start of the 2012 campaign, going 0-14 with five strikeouts in three games. The season hadn't been the type of performance expected from a player who once hit .342 in 20 games with the Dodgers.
"I started off a little rough, I mean obviously I came out from big league spring training and I was struggling and just trying to work on a few things and try to get back in the groove," Sands said. "But I'm feeling better these last few games and just trying to get in a rhythm."
I think that's how Sands refers to crushing a 400-foot-plus home run (his second of the year) to deep center in Friday night's game; getting in a rhythm.
"It was good to hit another one," Sands said. "I hit it alright but I didn't hit it as well as I wanted to, but luckily we're playing in Albuquerque and it carried."
We're still not even sure if the ball came back down yet. And although Sands may attest his homer to the high altitude of Isotopes Park, it still doesn't account for his other eight hits in just as many games.
So what's changed from Opening Day in Omaha to the Home Opener in Albuquerque?
"I'm just making changes daily, trying to get comfortable, but at the same time keeping my mechanics sound," Sands said. "I'm trying to simplify it (at-bats) right now. In Spring Training I got so many things in my head and I was trying to be so perfect."
Let me help Sands simplify it; home runs like Friday's, plus his .438 average of late, equals another big league call-up. Soon.
"You can't really look for it (a call-up), all you can do is play today and if it happens it happens," Sands said. "But I'll be prepared if there is, just working day by day and just getting better every day, and if it happens it happens. If not, I'll just keep working."
And Sands has lived up to his word, spending several rounds of one-on-one batting practice with hitting coach, John Valentin, before Saturday and Sunday's game. Heck, he was taking swings even before the team picture.
I assume this is his way of getting back into a hitter's rhythm.
"I want to get kind of comfortable again and get back to where I was last year," Sands said. "I'm trying to be where I know what I'm doing up there and I'm real consistent at the plate. I'm not really looking at numbers, just more how I'm hitting the ball, and obviously getting back up to the Major Leagues."
Manager, Lorenzo Bundy, has seen the highs and lows of Sands' tenure in Albuquerque, and continues to set the bar high for constant improvement.
"It's a process with Jerry," Bundy said. "This is his second year and I expect a lot. I need him to keep making the adjustments and he'll be able to get back to the big leagues."
But just as Sands said he can't look for a call-up, presumably because that decision is out of his control, he plans to focus on certain things he CAN control.
"Spring Training helped me to realize that I have to depend on myself when I'm up there at the plate," Sands said. "I can't worry about everything else going on, whatever everyone else is saying, so I need to be selective of what I'm taking into my head up to the plate -- just simplifying things."
For Sands, clearing his head and simplifying his approach at the plate means he's going back to the basics.
"I just want to see a good pitch and hit it," he said.
We'll watch that "Albuquerque altitude" take care of the rest.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.