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Lamb's health a big spring storyline for D-backs

Slugger's successful return would help offset key offensive departures
February 9, 2019

PHOENIX -- There will be a lot of attention paid to D-backs infielder Jake Lamb when Spring Training gets underway.Lamb, of course, is coming off a season that was almost entirely lost to a left shoulder injury. His healthy return would play a big part in helping the D-backs' offense

PHOENIX -- There will be a lot of attention paid to D-backs infielder Jake Lamb when Spring Training gets underway.
Lamb, of course, is coming off a season that was almost entirely lost to a left shoulder injury. His healthy return would play a big part in helping the D-backs' offense overcome the departures of Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock during the offseason.
And, yes, Lamb will also be taking over Goldschmidt's spot at first base, after spending all but 35 of his professional innings at third.
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"He's a really good athlete, he's got good hands," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said of Lamb making the transition.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo called Lamb to give him the news about the position switch not long after Goldschmidt was traded in early December. Once he was cleared to resume full baseball activities three weeks ago, Lamb began taking grounders at first.
"It's been going really well," Lamb said. "I've been working a lot on the basic footwork. It's really little things, like how to come off the base when I'm holding a guy on. After working for the last three weeks, I already feel way more comfortable over there. At this point, it's just a matter of getting live reps and seeing the ball off the bat with the different spin, the slice from the righty, that hook from the lefty, just things like that."
Lamb said he worked with Goldschmidt three or four times before Goldschmidt departed for Florida to get ready for his first Spring Training with the Cardinals.
"There will be a little bit of an adjustment for him moving from third, but I don't think it's going to take him very long," Goldschmidt said. "I think he's going to end up being great over there."
Offense was the D-backs' Achilles heel last season. They especially missed the power Lamb brought to the lineup the previous two seasons, when he hit 29 and 30 homers, respectively, and made his first All-Star team in 2017.
Lamb began 2018 with a four-RBI game on Opening Day, but he sprained his left AC joint while diving for a foul ball a few days later on April 2. He wound up on the injured list for seven weeks. But even when he returned, it was clear he wasn't fully healthy -- even though he believed he was.

He saw the difference right away during batting practice at the team's facility.
"I think the people that are hitting with me notice it, too," Lamb said. "Just the way the ball is coming off my bat."
Lamb also learned he needs to take care of not just the big muscles, but also the smaller ones in his shoulder. Had they been stronger, he might not have been injured.
"I think I did a poor job taking care of the small muscles in my shoulders -- and that's completely on me and I paid for it," Lamb said. "I can honestly say it won't happen again."
That's good news for the D-backs, because they are certainly counting on him in 2019.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.