PHOENIX — John and Deonne Lamb had taken this week off from work to spend some time at their cabin in Idaho, but their retreat was interrupted by a phone call from their 23-year-old son.
The Lambs, parents to Arizona Diamondbacks third base prospect Jake Lamb, found themselves Thursday not in the mountains of Idaho, but in the Valley — not in rocking chairs or wicker, but in hard plastic seats, watching their son make his Major League debut.
“They were supposed to be there for a week. They had three days there when I called them with the bad news,” Lamb joked before Thursday’s series finale with the Kansas City Royals.
The Seattle, Wash., native arrived at Chase Field on Thursday as one of the D-backs’ top position player prospects — a status his organization wanted to see on display at the Major League level. He has hit to a .327/.407/.566 slash line in 108 minor league games this season while hitting 15 home runs and 84 RBI.
In opting to promote Lamb on Thursday, rather than waiting until rosters expand in September, the D-backs knew they were sending a message.
“We were kind of looking toward the future a little more,” manager Kirk Gibson said before the game. “We made a decision as an organization to (advance) guys to try to get a better idea of what their capabilities are.”
Later adding that there was “a curiosity” of whether Lamb was a fit for next year, and that they were aiming to determine how far along the third baseman was in his development, Gibson revealed the organization’s plans for him down the stretch.
“He’s going to be our third baseman,” the manager said.
Getting the start there Thursday, while hitting sixth in his manager’s batting order, Lamb went 1-for-4, with his first career hit — and RBI — coming in the third inning. After former Mobile teammates David Peralta and Chase Anderson warned that he could expect more nerves than usual in his debut, Lamb was tested immediately.
Royals right fielder Nori Aoki sliced a dribbler down the third base line on the second pitch of the game, requiring Lamb to charge toward home plate and throw across his body to first base. In the following at-bat, on the sixth pitch of the game, Lamb corralled head-level line drive yanked his way by Royals second baseman Omar Infante.
“That was nice, you know, to get those (plays) out of the way,” Lamb said after the game. “It kind of got the nerves down a little bit.”
As these things tend to go, it had been a tumultuous 24 hours or so for Lamb and his holidaying parents. Really, dating back to over a week ago, when the D-backs traded third baseman Martin Prado to the New York Yankees, his sense of normalcy was tilted.
On July 31, the day of the trade, Lamb knew that a call-up could be imminent.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it,” he said, referring to his candidacy with the D-backs after Prado departed. “I was in the trainer’s room talking with one of our trainers, and one of the guys came in and showed me the Twitter feed, and I started shaking a little bit. You know, I thought it was going to be my turn.”
It wasn’t his turn, per se, just yet, but a promotion was in order for him as the D-backs recalled Triple-A Reno third baseman Andy Marte, whose place Lamb took on the Aces.
Days later, the two were swapping places, with Lamb earning his Major League designation after going 9-for-18 with a home run and five RBI in Triple-A.
“I got the call from (Mobile BayBears manager) Andy Green and that was special to me, because he managed me in Missoula my rookie year and managed me obviously this whole year in Mobile,” he said of his call-up.
Lamb, who missed Green’s first call or two as he napped, made no attempt to downplay the magnitude of the occasion Thursday, talking openly about how much the night would mean to him.
“I definitely broke down a little bit,” he said of the moments after he got Green’s phone call. “It’s what I’ve been working for my whole life, and that call to my parents was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
And that he had just, for the first time, stepped on Reno soil made the nature of his call-up all the more surprising, Lamb said.
“Yeah, when I was going to Reno, I kind of settled in,” he said. “You know, (thinking) I’m going to make a playoff run with this team and it’s a great team down there — a lot of older guys that accepted me right away. And it was a good experience for those five days.
“I was very surprised, just because I played four or five games in Triple-A and we had an off-day in Reno. I went outside yesterday to look at the ballpark and I was excited to play there, and all of the sudden I get a call that I’m coming here. And I’m pretty excited to play here, too.”