SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jake Lamb is tired of being asked about his move across the diamond. He’s just ready to get the regular season going.
After five big league seasons as a third baseman, Lamb is set to start the season at first base, a spot vacated when All-Star Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals over the offseason. Eduardo Escobar was deemed a better option at the hot corner, and Lamb’s position switch will keep his bat in the lineup.
“I’m ready to go. Ready to get the season going and start off on a good note,” Lamb said.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo earlier in the week said Lamb will be the everyday first baseman this season. Lamb has struggled against left-handers throughout his career, but he hits for power and drives in runs when healthy.
Lamb played just 56 games in 2018, his season shortened by a shoulder injury. He was an All-Star in 2017.
But he’s rarely played first base before this spring. He appeared in eight games there in 2015, and that’s it.
“The glove, the positioning, the speed of the game, being locked in on every play,” he said of the hardest part of the move at the beginning. “But I’m getting the hang of it.”
Spring training has been Lamb’s time to get action at first base in games, though he missed a few days with back tightness and got Friday and Saturday off from games. Lovullo likes what he’s seen, though he acknowledged the switch it isn’t an easy thing to do.
“He’s getting more comfortable standing in different spots,” Lovullo said. “We do a lot of over-shifting, so getting in and around the bag is one part of being a first baseman. But getting into an extreme over-shift position and then getting to first base and covering the bag, getting your feet organized, that’s been an adjustment for him, but he’s done an extremely good job of that.”
Lamb worked out with Goldschmidt in the offseason, asking questions of his former teammate and getting an introduction into the key points of playing first base.
Lamb admitted to not being mentally ready to play first in 2015. He’s in a different place in 2019, having spent the spring working on cutoff plays, relay throws, covering the bag, bunts, pickoff throws and where to be positioned defensively.
“You’re just in every play. Third base, you’re not participating in every play,” he said. “It’s fun. I just want to help the team win.”
NOTE: RHP Zack Greinke made a lengthy start in a minor league game Saturday, his final tuneup before the season opener Thursday. He’s been named the starter on opening day in Los Angeles. “Should be all right,” he said. “It’s nice. I don’t really care about that stuff. I like pitching a lot so it gives me the best chance at making 33 or 34 starts (this season).”