SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Fans will see a different looking Jake Lamb come Opening Day.The D-backs' third baseman is sporting a new number having switched from 19 to 22 and a completely reworked batting stance that allows him to keep his bat in the hitting zone longer.But the change that might
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Fans will see a different looking Jake Lamb come Opening Day.
The D-backs' third baseman is sporting a new number having switched from 19 to 22 and a completely reworked batting stance that allows him to keep his bat in the hitting zone longer.
But the change that might have the most positive impact on him is one that can't be seen.
Lamb hit .263 in his first full season in the big leagues last year and while he knew there were some mechanical adjustments at the plate he needed to make there were also mental ones as well.
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"Now looking back on the whole season I learned a lot as far as the importance of just taking it day by day whether it's a good day or bad day you just have to learn from it," Lamb said. "It's important to stay on the same level no matter good or bad. I think I'm definitely going to be a better player this year and years to come just because of what I went through last year."
With its daily grind and constant failure -- even the best hitters are only successful three out of 10 times -- the mental side of the game can be every bit as important as the physical.
When he reviewed the 2015 season Lamb realized that he had periods where the struggles of one day carried over into the next leading to slumps.
"All the work I was putting in before the game -- whether it was tee work, soft toss, batting practice -- I tried to be so perfect in everything I did," Lamb said. "And if it didn't go the right way I would get upset and that would carry over into the game. And then if the game didn't go well that would carry over into the next day."
That has changed this spring.
"I'm not saying I don't care about what I do pregame, but it's about remembering that pregame I'm working on stuff," he said. "And whether it goes good or bad, I completely let it go and now it's just about seeing the ball and hitting the ball."
In a predominantly right-handed lineup, the D-backs need production from Lamb's left-handed bat to balance things out.
"We're counting on him," D-backs general manager Dave Stewart said. "We're hoping to have more impact from him this year to extend our lineup. If he swings the bat like he's capable it extends our lineup and makes us better."
New plate mechanics, an improved mental approach and the experience of a full season in the big leagues could add up to a breakout year for Lamb.
"It helps having seen pitchers and playing teams and learning how they approach you, that's all part of it," Lamb said. "It's just about controlling what I can control. I can control how I prepare and how I feel about my preparation and I control the amount of confidence I have. That's really what I'm focused on."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.