Jake Lamb appeared poised for a big year the way he was swinging the bat this spring when Major League Baseball was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The question was where would manager Torey Lovullo find at-bats for him, with Eduardo Escobar at third base and Christian Walker at first.
That is no longer an issue now that there will be a DH used in the National League in 2020. Lovullo has said Lamb will see time at first, third and DH.
Lamb spent some time this week talking with MLB.com about being a DH, the newest edition to the Lamb family (who may or may not have a middle name), and his pending free agency.
MLB.com: How has the first week of Summer Camp gone for you? I know things have been a lot different with the health and safety protocols, how has that all been?
Jake Lamb: I think everyone going in knew it was going to be a lot different, that it was going to be a different year as a whole. As far as what the Diamondbacks have done in terms of following the protocols -- social distancing, wearing masks in the clubhouse, all of that -- they’re doing an incredible job.
• Escobar on mask: 'I take care of my teammates'
But really, when it comes down to it, like when we started these scrimmages this week, it’s been so much fun. Just to be back out on the field, playing baseball. It’s a little weird facing your own guys on the mound, but we’ve been stuck in our houses for the most part for these last bunch of months, and now that we’re back on the field, man, it’s just so much fun.
MLB.com: You were swinging a hot bat at the end of Spring Training, and judging by your performances in the intrasquad games this week it looks like ...
Lamb: I still am, Steve! (laughs)
MLB.com: Yes, that’s what I was going to say, it looks like you still are. How are you feeling at the plate right now?
Lamb: I feel really good. I keep saying this -- and you’re going to say there’s some cockiness coming out here -- but this is the best I’ve ever felt in my career. With that comes a lot of confidence, and it’s good to have my confidence all the way back. I’m just ready for whatever this year has in store. As far as my bat goes, I’m ready to go right now. I feel really good at the plate.
MLB.com: That goes back to some adjustments you made during the offseason that we talked about during Spring Training, right?
Lamb: Yeah, I don’t really remember the questions you asked then, but I definitely tried to simplify everything. It all just comes down to timing. I feel like I’ve made it that much easier to time up the pitcher by simplifying my moves. That’s where I feel like I’m at right now. I feel like I’m on time, not early, which ultimately allows me to make a good decision on whether it’s a strike or ball and whether I want to swing or not.
MLB.com: Torey mentioned that he’s planning on moving you around from third to first base like last year, but also that you’d see a lot of time at DH. That’s a new spot for you, have you given any thought to what that’s going to be like?
Lamb: Yeah, I mean I’m not going to lie, it’s going to take some getting used to, as far as being a DH. I don’t think I have DH’ed a whole lot in my Major League career, but it’ll be fine. It just takes some getting used to. You have a good at-bat or a bad at-bat and you’re just sitting there. It’s like, ‘Do I move around, do I rest my legs?’ Just little things like that. I’ll just have to find a routine that I like.
MLB.com: Have you talked to anyone who has been a DH before regularly as to what a good routine might be?
Lamb: No. I think a matter of just keeping the body hot, moving around. I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not keeping my leg guard and batting gloves on the whole time. I’m not going to be that guy. Seriously, though, I think when you lock into the game when the team is out on defense, that helps you out a lot.
MLB.com: So tell me a little bit about the new addition to the Lamb family, Hugo the yellow Lab.
Lamb: Hugo Ryan, yes.
MLB.com: He’s got a middle name?
Lamb: No, that’s just, OK, it’s an inside joke. That’s my middle name, so the joke is he takes my middle name. But it’s just "Hugo." He’s not "Hugo Ryan." We’ve had him about six months now. We got him that first week of Spring Training. He’s been a lot of fun. He’s helped me a lot during this quarantine time. I had fun just chasing him around the backyard. He loves the pool. It’s fun for me because I’ve gotten into the routine of waking up at 6 a.m. and taking him for a walk.
MLB.com: How old was he when you got him?
Lamb: Eight weeks.
MLB.com: He was good company during the quarantine?
Lamb: Yeah, when the weather was under 105 degrees it was fun to be out back with him. He was there when I would do my workouts out there, and I also did a lot of pool workouts, that type of stuff.
MLB.com: Speaking of workouts, have you bulked up a little bit since March? The D-backs posted a photo or two of you on Twitter that have generated a lot of attention.
Lamb: I think it just looks like I have. I’m in really good shape -- a lot of biking -- but I don’t think I’ve bulked up. I feel like I’m moving really well. My legs feel really good.
MLB.com: It’s hard to believe you’re going to be free agent for the first time at the end of the year.
Lamb: It is crazy, and you forget about it even more with what’s going on, because look, I just want to play baseball right now. We’ve talked, and you know me, I’m not really worried about free agency. I’m just going to try to win -- win a World Series with this team this year. Whatever happens after that, happens.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.