PEORIA, Ariz. – None of the A’s recent moves have helped Andrew Lambo’s cause for a roster spot, so apparently he’s taking matters into his own hands.
Lambo enjoyed another big game Sunday, doing all he can to stand out in Oakland’s crowded outfield picture. He drilled a tape-measure homer to right-center as part of his 2-for-4 day in a 6-5 victory over the San Diego Padres. That makes him 6-for-12 with four RBI over four games.
The 27-year-old Lambo, claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh over the winter, lined up as a serious contender for the 25-man roster as the offseason unfolded.
Then February hit. The A’s traded for Khris Davis to be their left fielder, then added utility man Chris Coghlan in another trade once camp started. That means Lambo faces an uphill battle to break camp with the big club, though his play suggests he’s hardly dwelling on it.
“My job is to go out there and make their decision hard,” Lambo said. “They know the best 25 men to assemble.”
The left-handed hitter entered 2009 ranked as the Dodgers’ top prospect, and he’s known for possessing big power. But that translated to just one homer and three RBI in 59 Major League games spread over three seasons with the Pirates. Last season, he made the Opening Day roster but came down with plantar fasciitis in his left foot in May and missed the rest of the season.
Rather than stress out about impressing his new employers, Lambo seems at ease wandering around the A’s clubhouse each morning. His raspy voice often is heard before he’s seen, and that at-ease approach is benefiting him on the field so far.
“I’m going on about four or five camps now where I wanted to do a lot of good things for the manager and the team,” Lambo said. “I wanted to dedicate this spring to just having fun, be loose and work on little things. Pretty much I’ve just been following my game plan and it’s been working out so far.”
Manager Bob Melvin said Sunday morning that the A’s want to give Lambo lots of at-bats this spring to evaluate him.
“He’s off to a nice little start,” Melvin said. “This is someone we’re taking a pretty hard look at. He’s taking advantage of it.”
PROSPECT WATCH: Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect, is collecting quite a highlight reel. In the bottom of the sixth, he showed great reactions to turn an inning-ending double play. A hard shot ricocheted off second baseman Chad Pinder, and Barreto scooped up the ball, touched the bag at second and threw on to first.
He led off the very next inning, and proceeded to homer to left field on the first pitch. For a kid who just turned 20, Barreto is making things look easy.
“He’s got a lot of talent,” Lambo said. “There’s a lot of great talent around here. It’s real exciting to come to the field every day.”
Having a tougher day of it was another highly touted infield prospect, third baseman Renato Nunez. He made two errors on throws to first and seemed particularly tentative on the second one.
But Melvin had praise before the game for Nunez, the A’s No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America. Melvin added that infield coach Ron Washington also has talked up Nunez, whose defense at third is still a work in progress. He figures to also see time across the diamond at first base with Triple-A Nashville this season.
NOTEWORTHY: Chris Bassitt, squarely in the mix for a rotation spot, made his first spring start and threw two scoreless innings. The right-hander said he’s much more relaxed this spring than he was last year, when he struggled with his command in exhibitions after coming over in a trade from the Chicago White Sox.
Melvin has talked about Bassitt as someone the A’s envision being in their starting rotation, though nothing is being handed to him. Melvin also brought up Felix Doubront’s name Sunday morning as someone in the mix to join the five-man starting staff.
ICYMI: Bassitt said his re-worked windup, which cuts down on excess movement and is patterned after teammate Sonny Gray, is coming along well. One reason he wanted to change things up is because he was tipping his pitches last season, he said. Here’s a recent story that dives more into Bassitt’s offseason work with Gray.
CAMP BATTLE: Reliever Ryan Dull shined in the fourth, when two errors from his defense contributed to a bases-loaded, no-out jam. Dull held the Padres scoreless, striking out Christian Bethancourt and Adam Rosales and retiring Jon Jay on a fly ball to center.
The A’s turned in their sloppiest defensive effort yet with four errors. Aside from Nunez’s miscues, center fielder Billy Burns overthrew third base in the first inning and right fielder Chris Coghlan was charged for an error when he couldn’t make a tough catch on a shallow fly.