Oeltjen's contract purchased from Triple-A

Oeltjen's contract purchased from Triple-A

Oeltjen's contract purchased from Triple-A
DENVER -- The Dodgers made another concession to their struggles Thursday, sending right-handed-hitting outfielder Jerry Sands back to Triple-A Albuquerque and purchasing the contract of left-handed-hitting outfielder Trent Oeltjen.

The 28-year-old Oeltjen, a native Australian, has been on fire at Albuquerque, batting .339 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in 56 games, including .440 in May. Oeltjen had brief callups with the Dodgers last year and with Arizona in 2009.

The timing of the move is curious, as the Dodgers designated for assignment veteran left-handed-hitting outfielder Jay Gibbons Monday to keep Sands in the Major Leagues, even though they also activated right-handed-hitting outfielder Marcus Thames the same day.

Gibbons and Juan Castro cleared waivers Thursday and were outrighted to Triple-A. Castro is not expected to report. Gibbons hasn't informed the Dodgers of his plans.

"I don't think, in our minds, Gibby was giving us enough," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "The guy was pretty much one dimensional. He's not stealing a bag, you have to defend for him. Just didn't give us enough."

Mattingly said Thames, Oeltjen and Tony Gwynn would be in the mix in left field, where the Dodgers have been searching for a solution since Manny Ramirez went wrong.

"It hasn't really panned out to this point the way we planned going into the season," he said. "We kind of knew going in that it wasn't an ideal situation."

Sands was hitting .200 with 33 strikeouts in 125 at-bats and two homers with 17 RBIs. He was called up seven weeks ago when he was hitting .400 at Albuquerque.

"We got to the point where we thought it was time," Mattingly said of Sands' demotion. "Jerry knows he's got to perform. He's not a guy I've lost confidence in at all. I still feel he'll be a good big-league player. He's not off anybody's radar. That said, we've got to win games now."

Mattingly said Sands needs to work on getting the barrel of the bat out faster and not drag it through the zone, which has made him an opposite-field hitter when he's not fouling off hittable pitches.

"He's not overwhelmed," Mattingly said. "But in this league you might get one pitch, and he can't miss those.

"Ned [Colletti, general manager] was concerned all along [Sands] wasn't having success, and didn't want him to get beat up. We felt going down gives him a chance to get away from it and evaluate it and make adjustments."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Oeltjen, the Dodgers designated for assignment hard-throwing Minor League pitcher Luis Vasquez, who is in his fifth professional season and still at Single-A.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.