Dodgers send down Jerry Sands

DENVER -- The Los Angeles Dodgers optioned promising but struggling rookie Jerry Sands back to Triple-A Albuquerque before Thursday night's game with the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Sands, arguably the organization's top position prospect before he was called up for the first time on April 18, is hitting just .200, albeit with 10 doubles and two home runs.

To fill Sands' roster spot, the Dodgers purchased the contract of journeyman outfielder Trent Oeltjen from Albuquerque, where he was hitting .339 with eight homers, 34 RBI and a .429 on-base percentage.

"We just want Jerry to go down and have a chance to kind of put it all back together," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It's not that it has really been bad. He just didn't have the success you would like, and this is a chance to get away from it and kind of evaluate it a little better once it's not that in your face all the time. And, it will give him a chance to play every day.

"I think [general manager] Ned [Colletti] was concerned all along that he wasn't having the success we wanted," Mattingly said. "He didn't want him to get beat up."

Oeltjen, 28, logged time in the majors each of the past two seasons, with the Arizona Diamondbacks two years ago and with the Dodgers as a September call-up last year, when he hit .217 in 14 games.

Sands was getting most of the starts in left field for the Dodgers, so his demotion likely means the position will turn into a left-right platoon between Tony Gwynn Jr. and Marcus Thames, respectively, with the lefty-hitting Oeltjen possibly getting an occasional start.

"I think they're all three in that mix," Mattingly said. "Trent is swung the bat really well in spring training, and he was swinging the bat good in Triple-A. Trent, to me, has been swinging the bat good lately, so we'll see what it looks like."

Mattingly said Sands will be back sometime this season.

"Jerry isn't a guy I have lost confidence in at all," Mattingly said. "Jerry is going to be a good big league player. He just has to continue to get better and make some adjustments. ... Jerry isn't off anybody's radar, let's put it that way."

To clear a 40-man roster spot for Oeltjen, the Dodgers outrighted minor league pitcher Luis Vasquez, who is currently pitching at advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga and has a 4.76 ERA in five relief appearances and returned recently from a right-elbow injury. The move essentially means nothing for Vasquez other than that he is no longer on the 40-man roster, but for the Dodgers, it means they once again have just one pitcher on their 40-man, right-hander John Ely, who isn't already in the majors or on either the major or minor league disabled list.

In other moves, infielder Juan Castro and outfielder Jay Gibbons, who were designated for assignment earlier, have cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Albuquerque. Both have the option to refuse the assignment and become free agents, but neither has made a decision yet.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.