Korean RBI king Sands takes Asian challenge to Japan

Jerry Sands may be a longshot bet to have success with the Hanshin Tigers this season, but Korean pro baseball’s 2019 RBI leader has a history of bucking long odds.

Sands turned pro after being selected in the 25th round of Major League Baseball’s 2008 amateur draft, and before joining Korea Baseball Organization’s Nexen Heroes (now the Kiwoom Heroes) midway through the 2018 season, he played in 156 major league games.

That might not seem like a lot, but just 27 of the 300 players taken in the 25th round between 2000 and 2009 reached the majors at all.

The 32-year-old Sands, who played in the majors for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, is one of seven imported players on Hanshin’s roster.

Unfortunately only four can be active at any one time during the regular season, and one, first baseman Justin Bour, was also a 25th-round pick, in 2009.

“It’s a competition,” Sands told Kyodo News on Wednesday at Jingu Stadium. “We all know what it is.”

“I didn’t get a whole lot of opportunities in the big leagues and it is a young man’s game. As you get a few more years on you, it’s that much harder.”

Sometimes taking that…

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