How Jake Lamb aims to help Sox ‘win some baseball games’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Jake Lamb was an All Star in 2017. Since, he’s been just a .205 hitter in just 165 games.
But Lamb, a late addition to the White Sox group for Opening Day, showed some flashes of the healthy, productive hitter he used to be in a brief stint with the Oakland Athletics last season, slashing .267/.327/.556 in 13 games. He actually got a hit off Lucas Giolito in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series, the final batter Giolito faced in his dominant playoff debut.
What’d he notice about these White Sox looking across the field during that series?
“No. 1, I noticed the swagger, the swagger of the team as a whole,” he said before Friday’s game in Anaheim. “Top to bottom, it’s a deep team. I’m excited to just be here and help these guys win some baseball games.”
Lamb is a part of that depth now. He’s a third baseman by trade, and though there doesn’t figure to be a lot of playing time to be had behind Yoán Moncada, Lamb can play first base, he can DH, and he’s even confident he can be part of the left-field-by-committee approach the White Sox are taking to fill in for the injured Eloy Jiménez.
“I’m not here to take anyone’s job. I’m just here to come in and fill in where I need to be,” he said before Friday’s game in Anaheim. “That being said, I’m going to prepare to be the best version of myself, whether that’s DH’ing, whether that’s backing up Yo-Yo at third, getting some reps at first or even playing some left field.
“It sucks to see a guy like Eloy go down, but the good teams have that depth and have guys that can fill in. … So wherever they need me, I’m going to be ready to go. It’s definitely different than being an everyday guy playing one position. But I knew that was the case when I came here, and I’m ready to do it.”
Tony La Russa became familiar with Lamb when he worked in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ front office from 2014 to 2017. Aside from the 13 games he played with the A’s last season, that’s where Lamb spent his entire major league career, including the strong 2016 and 2017 campaigns during which he mashed 59 homers and drove in 196 runs.
Lamb won’t be expected to hit 30 homers in a reserve role this season. But any amount of his old production he can rediscover can help the White Sox try to fill the Jiménez-sized hole in their lineup. Lamb is ready and willing to head out to left field, if need be, but the corner-outfield spot isn’t the only thing that needs to be accounted for with Jiménez on the shelf. The White Sox will need replacements offensively, too.
And while that’s a tall task — Jiménez won a Silver Slugger last season after having one of the best offensive campaigns in the AL — just like how the White Sox are planning on doing in left field, it’ll be a team effort at the plate, too. Lamb can chip in.
Certainly, he figures to get an opportunity of some sort. La Russa, in just two games, has shown he intends to use his entire roster, not allowing players to sit around and rust on the bench. After starting Leury García and Zack Collins in left field and at DH, respectively, in the opener Thursday, it was Andrew Vaughn and Yermín Mercedes on Friday night. Perhaps there are more line changes to come.
“We have more of an issue of getting guys at-bats,” La Russa said. “You have your core that’s going to play the majority of the games. You have an opening in the outfield and DH. Somebody’s going to step up, and it’s why, as much as you can, you’ve got to give guys at-bats.”
Lamb is part of that mix. And maybe he’s the guy that steps up. La Russa’s going to find out. Lamb intends to make it easy for him.
“It was awesome that these guys gave me a chance,” Lamb said, “and now I get a chance to prove myself and show these guys it was worth going out and getting me.”