It's hard to imagine a better first day with a new team for a player than the one Jake Lamb had with the A's.
After losing two third basemen on the same day, the A’s signed Lamb on Monday morning to add some much-needed depth. Later that night, the veteran infielder made an immediate impact in Oakland’s 9-0 win over the Mariners in the nightcap of a doubleheader at T-Mobile Park, smacking a solo home run and a double for a two-hit game in his A’s debut.
“It really makes you feel part of the team,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Lamb’s performance. “It can be difficult coming in this late in the season to a new team and trying to get to know new teammates. You want to perform well right away, and he did.”
Lamb, who was designated for assignment by the D-backs on Friday, arrived from Arizona with just five hits all season. Monday night was his first multihit performance of 2020.
“You always want to come in and make an impact,” Lamb said. “I hit a couple of balls well tonight and had some good at-bats. That was a lot of fun.”
Lamb was an All-Star in 2017, slashing .248/.357/.487 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs. But shoulder injuries have plagued the 29-year-old infielder in recent years, limiting him to 152 games over the past three seasons. With the deadline for postseason-eligible players to be added to the roster on Tuesday, Lamb is eligible for the playoffs for Oakland.
“To be honest, I didn’t really know if I would get another shot this year,” Lamb said. “The Diamondbacks were the only team I had ever been with, and the DFA was a little bit of a surprise. I got the call that this team needed someone. We’re in a playoff race, and I’m so excited to be here.”
Making Lamb’s performance extra special was the location. The infielder was born and raised in Seattle, attending the University of Washington before getting drafted by Arizona in 2012.
“It’s really cool to be back here,” Lamb said. “The only time I played here in the big leagues was 2015. To do it here with a new team having a fresh start in Seattle, it was a special day.”
The search for another third baseman began after the club announced on Saturday that Matt Chapman would undergo season-ending surgery on his right hip. Chad Pinder, who was expected to get an uptick in playing time at the hot corner in place of Chapman, sustained a right hamstring in Saturday’s doubleheader and was placed on the 10-day injured list, increasing the necessity for another infielder.
For the interim, the A’s recalled utility infielder Nate Orf from the club’s alternate training site on Sunday to take Pinder’s spot on the roster. Orf, 30, was a non-roster invite to Spring Training for the A’s after spending his 2019 campaign in the Brewers’ system at Triple-A San Antonio, where he hit .272 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs over 125 games.
“I loved him [in Spring Training],” Melvin said. “Versatile, scrappy player that can play any position and gives you a tough at-bat. I think he’s a nice guy to have in our pool. He was the right guy.”
Melvin wasn’t sure how long Pinder might be sidelined.
“Pinder is a guy that has been a leader with these guys all through the Minor Leagues,” Melvin said. “Pinder is the guy that keeps everybody under control. He has a great way of talking to guys and understanding what they’re going through. Hopefully, we have him around. My guess is he’ll rehab with us. He’s very impactful in our clubhouse.”
The A's placed left-hander A.J. Puk on the 45-day injured list to make room for Lamb on the 40-man roster. Puk won't be returning to the club this season as he is set to undergo left shoulder surgery on Wednesday.