TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Slugging outfielder Lambo part of Pirates' first base equation

Pirates/MLB Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

If at first ...

With a month to go before spring training, the Pirates have limited internal options at first base:

Gaby Sanchez: Batted .204 against RHPs and .333 against LHPs last year

Andrew Lambo: Power surge took him from Double-A to majors last season

Chris McGuinness: Power potential, but can he hit at big league level?

Travis Ishikawa: Non-roster invitee has been in only 101 games from 2011-13

Pirates podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, 10:06 p.m.
 

BRADENTON, Fla. — During batting practice Monday, the first day of voluntary winter workouts at Pirate City, Andrew Lambo swung a piece of lumber that once belonged to Garrett Jones.

The leftover bat might not be the only thing Lambo inherits from Jones.

Last month, after spending five seasons with the Pirates, Jones signed a free-agent deal with the Miami Marlins. That opened at least a part-time job at first base for a left-handed hitter who can platoon with Gaby Sanchez.

The Pirates pursued free-agent James Loney, but he wound up re-signing with the Tampa Bay Rays. They eyed Ike Davis, Logan Morrison and Mitch Moreland in separate trade talks, but were unable to close a deal.

There aren't many good external options left. With spring training scheduled to begin in 37 days, the Pirates are looking inward for at least a temporary solution.

“We have a game plan in place,” manager Clint Hurdle said in early December during MLB's Winter Meetings. “We've talked to our guys about what we believe Sanchez can do to help us there and what Lambo can do if it works out that he gets time there.”

Last year, Lambo played in a total of 19 games at first base for Triple-A Indianapolis and Double-A Altoona. From 2007-2010, in the lower levels of the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system, Lambo played in 23 games at first.

To get a crash course at first base, Lambo spent the past couple of months playing winter ball in Venezuela. Lambo played for Cardenales de Lara, along with fellow Pirates Starling Marte, Alen Hanson, Matt Hague, Gregory Polanco and Gift Ngoepe.

In 27 games for Cardenales de Lara, Lambo batted .228 with a .648 on-base plus slugging percentage. He hit six doubles and two triples. But, after whacking 32 home runs in the minors and one in a brief stint with the Pirates last season, Lambo did not go deep in winter ball.

No big deal. Lambo was in Venezuela to work on his defense.

“I started off a little slow and finished strong,” Lambo said Monday. “I got in a lot of work at first base. There was a coach there who hit me 100 ground balls at first base every single day. I can't believe he had the energy to do it, but he did — every day.”

For the first few games after he arrived in Venezuela, Lambo started games in right field. But over his final couple of weeks there, he was getting a lot of playing time at first base.

“It's all about getting up to game speed, and that's what I wanted to do in Venezuela,” Lambo said. “It's a little quicker (at first base) than the outfield. The ball's coming at you quick. Getting the hang of that was the biggest adjustment. I had to put in the work. I wanted to get better at it, so I was out there every day.”

It was the first time Lambo had played winter ball in Venezuela. He said he was too busy adjusting to the culture and fine-tuning his first base skills to worry about what moves the Pirates were trying to make in the free-agent and trade markets.

“I don't ever pay much attention to all that,” Lambo said. “My job is to go out there and play. When someone tells me what to do, I do it.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Pirates' Andrew Lambo works out at first base during drills Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew Lambo works out at first base during drills Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Pirates' Andrew Lambo takes batting practice Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew Lambo takes batting practice Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Pirates' Andrew Lambo waits to take batting practice Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew Lambo waits to take batting practice Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Pirates' Andrew Lambo works out Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew Lambo works out Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Pirates notebook: Prospect Tucker unaware of ‘trade’ frenzy
  2. Gameday: Pirates at Twins, July 29, 2015
  3. Gameday: Pirates at Twins, July 28, 2015
  4. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  5. Cole collects MLB-best 14th win as Pirates take series against Nationals
  6. Pirates notebook: No sign of improvement for RHP Sadler
  7. Pirates notebook: Cervelli cherishes All-Star gift from teammate Burnett
  8. Making splash at MLB trade deadline not always in buyers’ best interest
  9. Pirates minor league report: Moore a breakout star in Morgantown
  10. Starting 9: Pirates help and the illusion of help
  11. Nationals pound Burnett, Pirates