Francona heaps praise on bench candidate Sands

Non-roster invitee has made the most of his time in camp

Francona heaps praise on bench candidate Sands

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona made an unsolicited point of bringing up non-roster invitee Jerry Sands on Sunday morning. In answering a question unrelated to the utility player, the manager began heaping praise on the bench candidate.

That is how much of an impression Sands has made on Francona this spring.

"Jerry Sands has had a really good camp," Francona said. "You've got to be a little careful, because of his wrist, and we've tried to do that -- not overwhelm his workload -- but I think he's had a really good showing here in camp."

The 27-year-old Sands -- signed to a Minor League contract in December -- underwent season-ending surgery to repair a strained tendon in his left wrist last July, ending a 12-game stint with Tampa Bay. The first baseman and corner outfielder spent time with the Dodgers (2011-12), in addition to the Rays ('14), hitting .240 overall with a .289 average (.851 OPS) against left-handed pitching in 82 career Major League games.

So far this spring, Sands has hit at a .385 (10-for-26) clip through 11 Cactus League games.

Francona has seen enough to feel Sands could impact the big league club.

"I would be surprised if he doesn't," Francona said. "Whether it's two weeks from now or, who knows? I'd be surprised if he doesn't."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.