Lamb looking forward while recovering

As lefty rehabs fully from back surgery, he hopes to show he belongs in big league rotation

February 19th, 2016

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There's a long list of pitchers that will be battling for the final three spots in the Reds' big league rotation. Left-hander John Lamb is not in that mix -- for the time being -- as he rehabs fully from back surgery.

Lamb could likely be ready by mid-April, and he will spend Spring Training trying to show he belongs in the Majors when his back is ready.

Spring Training info

"Nothing is guaranteed," Lamb said. "I'm very grateful to be in this environment and feel I have an opportunity to make a club -- whether that comes out of camp or in time if I'm not fortunate to make the club because of health."

The 25-year-old Lamb was one of three left-handed pitching prospects obtained from the Royals in July for ace Johnny Cueto. He was also the first of the three pitchers to be called up to the Reds and join the rotation.

Lamb was bothered by back soreness throughout 2015. Through treatment and epidural injections, he was mostly able to manage the injury, including after the trade.

"I went about it my own way to keep comfortable," Lamb said. "It never really came in between the lines until later in the year. Selfishly, I would say, I was able to go out and compete and felt good enough to do so. Certainly, I could have felt better at the end, but nothing physically was telling me not to go. I was grateful the club let me throw."

In 10 starts for Cincinnati, Lamb was 1-5 with a 5.80 ERA, after he was 10-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 20 starts at Triple-A.

"No one saw that it was going to require a surgical procedure to get him back where he needed to be," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "If that were the case, he wouldn't have been pitching. He had a second epidural at the end of the season, and then when he came back for Redsfest, they came to the conclusion that it hadn't recovered to their degree of satisfaction and decided to go in there and do the surgery."

The Dec. 7 operation repaired a bulging disc in Lamb's back. Recently, he has been on a long-toss program and is slated to throw his first bullpen session on Sunday. Other than being a little behind schedule, he didn't feel there would be any limitations placed on him during camp.

"Since [the surgery], I'm very grateful it's been in the rearview for the most part," Lamb said. "I've got my eyes looking forward in hopes to continue to feel good."

The candidates for the final three spots of the rotation include Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Melville. Price expected Lamb to be a contender, once he's ready.

"I don't like just giving away spots just because," Price said. "I think John is a much better pitcher, and he's proven in the Minor Leagues he's a much better pitcher than he showed in his brief time with us last year. There's a much better pitcher in there. Once he gets back to 100 percent healthy, I think we'll see it. He's definitely a guy we see as a long-term piece in our rotation."