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Jerry Sands makes White Sox, delivers game-winning RBI

Jerry Sands connects for a home run as Texas Rangers' Robinson Chirinos, right, looks on during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

SAN DIEGO — Manager Robin Ventura said outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands will make the White Sox’ Opening Day roster, completing the 25-man unit three days before the season opener Monday against the Athletics in Oakland, California.

‘‘Jerry will be going [to Oakland],’’ Ventura said before the Sox defeated the Padres 5-3 in the first of two exhibitions at Petco Park. ‘‘These aren’t easy decisions. But knowing what you’re going to need, these are the guys you take.’’

Sands, a right-handed hitter who hit three home runs in Cactus League games, also can play third base in a pinch. Left-handed-hitting Travis Ishikawa, a playoff hero for the Giants two years ago and a better glove man than Sands at first, also was considered, but the Sox appeared to have Sands in their plan all along.

‘‘He can come off the bench and hit a lefty; he’s had great numbers always against lefties,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘In the past, we haven’t had that great of a look from that side when they bring in a lefty from the bullpen. He does a lot of things we’ve been looking for.’’

Sands entered the game in left field in the seventh inning Friday and singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth, scoring J.B. Shuck from second to break a 3-all tie. Shuck’s squeeze bunt in the ninth pushed in the Sox’ fifth run.

The Sox scored the first three runs of the game on Jose Abreu’s two-run homer and and Melky Cabrera’s RBI groundout.

Sands, whom the Sox claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Indians in December, is a career .292 hitter with a .506 slugging percentage against lefties. He hit .297 with a .500 slugging percentage against lefties with the Indians last season.

‘‘I didn’t have the greatest camp in the world, but I felt I accomplished a few things I wanted to, even though the numbers don’t show it,’’ said Sands, who hit .188 (9-for-48) with three homers and a team-high 18 strikeouts this spring.

Sands, 28, batted .236 with four homers and 19 RBI in 133 plate appearances with the Indians last season. He also played in 66 games with Class AAA Columbus, hitting .287 with 14 homers, 46 RBI and a .538 slugging percentage.

Ventura’s lineup on Opening Day will probably be as follows: Adam Eaton in right field, Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, Jose Abreu at first base, Todd Frazier at third base, Melky Cabrera in left field, Avisail Garcia as the designated hitter, Brett Lawrie at second base, Austin Jackson in center field and Alex Avila at catcher.

That leaves the Sox with a bench of Sands, catcher Dioner Navarro, infielder Tyler Saladino and outfielder J.B. Shuck.

Barring a late-breaking trade or free-agent signing, the rotation will be Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Mat Latos and John Danks. The bullpen will be made up of David Robertson, Nate Jones, Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Dan Jennings.

Latos, who needed to be better than he was in his two Cactus League outings (he failed to complete five innings in either), started against the Padres and pitched four scoreless innings before getting in trouble with two walks in the fifth by loading the bases with no outs on two walks and an infield single, then allowing a sacrifice fly by Cory Spangenberg.

<em>Mat Latos works against the San Diego Padres in the first. AP</em>
Mat Latos works against the San Diego Padres in the first. AP

After that, Ventura ended his night, bringing in Jake Petricka, who gave up a single and two walks, adding to Latos’ pitching line. Latos finished with 4 1/3 innings, five hits, three runs, three walks and three strikeouts. He threw 69 pitches, 40 for strikes.

He spent his first three big-league seasons with them (2009-11) and went 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA in 31 starts in 2010.

The Sox completed spring training Wednesday in Arizona but waited until Friday to travel to San Diego. After another game Saturday against the Padres, they will travel Sunday to Oakland for a workout.

Ventura said he can sense the mood changing as the season opener nears.

‘‘You can just sense the excitement of guys getting out of spring training and ready to go,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a fun experience when you leave spring training, even if you go play in these [exhibition] games. You get into a big-league ballpark, and it’s different. There’s a coolness to the air. They get excited.’’