Lambo gets shot at providing power for Pirates
ST. LOUIS — That first call-up to the big leagues is a moment players dream of throughout their minor league careers, and Andrew Lambo's was memorable, if not a bit confusing.
Rarely one to deliver news in a straightforward manner, Triple-A Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor started by telling Lambo he would not be attending Monday's team function.
“I asked him what was the reason, and he just said, ‘Because you're going to go to St. Louis,' ” Lambo said from the visitors' clubhouse Tuesday at Busch Stadium. “I didn't know what he was talking about. Then he said, ‘You're going to St. Louis to play with the (Pirates),' so it was pretty cool.”
Lambo, 25, was not scheduled to start in right field Tuesday for the series opener against the Cardinals. That job went to Jose Tabata and his career .462 average against St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright.
But Tabata was scratched from the lineup roughly 90 minutes before first pitch with flu-like symptoms, and Lambo got the start after all, batting seventh. He finished 0 for 3 with a strikeout.
The Pirates are hoping that Lambo can continue to provide the offensive punch he did this season — first in Double-A Altoona, then in Indianapolis.
“We brought him up here to get him some at-bats,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We'll see what he can provide offensively.”
Lambo, who hit for the cycle with Altoona in early April, joins the Pirates with a combined .284 average, 24 doubles, five triples, 31 home runs and 97 RBI in 117 games between the Curve and the Indians. When the Pirates failed to acquire a right fielder at the trade deadline in late July, general manager Neal Huntington suggested Lambo could be a player who could help the major league team at the position at some point this season.
Numbers against Wainwright notwithstanding, Tabata has hit just .170 since the All-Star break. Travis Snider was hitting .188 after the break before going on the 15-day disabled list July 28 with left big toe discomfort. Tabata and Snider had three extra-base hits (one double, one triple, one home run) and four RBI between them during that time.
Hurdle said it wasn't any one thing that led to Lambo's call-up, but rather his continued growth.
“The question will always be, ‘Are they ready?' ” Hurdle said. “For me, there's only one way to find out if they're ready. If they've done the work, put forth the effort, accomplished some things at the levels they've been at as Andrew has done this season, it's time.”
Lambo's road to the majors has not been without twists and turns. Once one of the most highly regarded prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system, Lambo served a 50-game suspension for a second positive test for a banned drug in 2010.
The Pirates acquired him that summer, along with James McDonald, in a trade for Octavio Dotel.
At the beginning of the season, Lambo was neither on the Pirates' 40-man roster nor ranked among its top 50 prospects.
Lambo said his success this season has come from playing the game the right way.
“Going about business the right way, being consistent, trying not to do too much and just having fun and winning games,” he said. “I was fortunate enough when I got called up to Indy that it was a competitive team, and your basic goal is to just try to contribute any way you can. That's pretty much it.”