Lamb acclimating to new environment with Reds
Lefty goes through 'whirlwind' after trade from Royals and Major League debut
LOS ANGELES -- When left-handed pitcher John Lamb was called up from Triple-A Louisville on Thursday ahead of his big league debut on Friday at Dodger Stadium, he arrived not long before game time and sat on the dugout bench to watch with his new teammates.
During the game, Lamb high-fived players he didn't know. The 25-year-old spent his whole professional career with Kansas City, until he and two other lefty prospects were traded to Cincinnati on July 26 for ace Johnny Cueto. About three weeks later, Lamb, who grew up in Laguna Hills, Calif., found himself in the big leagues wearing a Reds uniform rather than a Royals one.
"A whirlwind, to say the least," Lamb said over the weekend. "It's an overwhelming emotion of being in my hometown, meeting new guys and stepping out of my comfort zone.
"I was welcomed with open arms, right when I walked in this clubhouse. Despite maybe a couple of guys not knowing who I am by face, guys acted like they were excited to see me, or were excited to see me. It's just another day and another game, all in pursuit of the ultimate goal -- individual success and mutual success."
Lamb pitched six innings on Friday, but the Reds lost, 5-3, to the Dodgers. Things were looking good until a four-run fifth inning, but Lamb ended well with a perfect sixth. His next start is scheduled for Thursday at Great American Ball Park vs. the D-backs.
Here are three things to know about Lamb:
• Lamb was Kansas City's top prospect, until everything changed on May 19, 2011. Pitching for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and two outs into the first inning, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and needed season-ending Tommy John surgery. The experience left a profound effect on Lamb and his career.
"Before my injury, I just grabbed the ball and threw it. I was trying to be a sponge and better myself, but I felt like I had an idea of what I was doing," Lamb said. "The injury for me was a mental side of fear planted in my mind. I had to battle, 'Am I going to blow out?' The curveball was the pitch I blew out on. It popped on a curveball.
"I wasn't prepared when I got to 2011 camp in the sense of physically. I chalked it up to that. Whether there were uncontrollables or not, I truly believe that accountability would have said I wasn't doing as much as I could have to put myself in a position to be healthy. ... I don't believe that's going to be my way of being, or the potential to be. I have to work a little harder at it than I was."
• Lamb's grandfather, John Ramsey, was a renowned public address announcer not only for the Dodgers, but he also had stints working for the Angels, Lakers, Rams, Raiders and USC football and basketball. Ramsey died in 1990 at age 62, seven months before Lamb was born, but the lefty has been given two of his late grandfather's Dodgers World Series rings.
• When Lamb was 15 and with the Midland Redskins amateur baseball team in 2006, he spent time in Cincinnati and visited Great American Ball Park.
"My host family brought us out to the park," Lamb said. "We got a chance to watch a game. I've been to the park, but haven't gotten a chance to stand on the field, obviously."
That will change on Tuesday when Lamb is on the bench watching the Reds play their next opponent, which just happens to be the Royals.
"My time in Louisville was a new set of fans wearing Reds uniforms," Lamb said. "It was definitely exciting to see new supporters and followers that want to see you do well. I'm just happy to be a part of this."