D-backs’ Jake Lamb more prepared to avoid slump after another hot start

Jun 7, 2017, 6:20 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2017, 11:29 am
Arizona Diamondbacks' Jake Lamb, right, scores on a wild pitch, as the throw to San Diego Padres re...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Jake Lamb, right, scores on a wild pitch, as the throw to San Diego Padres relief pitcher Brandon Maurer is late during the ninth inning of a baseball game in San Diego, Saturday, May 20, 2017. The Diamondbacks won 9-1. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
LISTEN: Jake Lamb, D-backs' Third Baseman

Jake Lamb is aware.

The Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman is aware of the growth required as a left-handed batter who struggles facing left-handed pitchers, and he’s aware of his All-Star worthy first half of the 2016 season that was followed by a slump in the second.

Lamb ranks first in MLB with 53 RBI after hitting a three-run home run Wednesday in a 7-4 win over the Padres, and he feels more prepared to keep his second hot start in two years going — unlike a year ago.

“I’m not really into the whole, you know, ‘on pace’ because I was on pace for a lot of things last year,” Lamb told Burns and Gambo on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “You just got to take it day by day. I feel great at the plate right now. I feel like I’m having some quality (at-bats) when I’m up there.

“You can’t get too ahead of yourself just because you get lost in the hype and all the numbers. I just try to — as boring as it sounds — I try to take it day by day.”

In 2016, Lamb perhaps heard all the noise.

The team promoted his All-Star candidacy as he hit .291 with 20 home runs and 61 RBI in the first 85 games of the year. He followed that with a .197 average in the final 65 games of the year.

So far in 56 games to begin 2017, Lamb is batting .286 with 15 home runs.

While his success against lefty arms has yet to take — Lamb is hitting .145 against lefties compared to .331 facing right-handers — he’s been given the full-time starting role at third base to grow.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said the team was committed to sticking with Lamb and wouldn’t platoon him on days Arizona faced left-handed starters.

“If we didn’t have patience in this game, we wouldn’t have young players evolving,” Lovullo said in May. “Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war.”

More than last year, Lamb believes his preparation and relationship with hitting coach Dave Magadan will help him improve in that regard.

Lamb has already seen progress in turning around rough patches before they become more than a blip on the radar of a very long season.

“I just learned a lot more about my swing and what I need to do with my swing in the offseason — just watching a lot of film on myself, which I’ve never really done before,” Lamb said. “Already this season, there’s been a couple times where I went through a little stretch, I didn’t feel comfortable. Having that relationship with my hitting coach, I can go up to him right away and he knows exactly what I’m doing or not doing.

“There’s always going to be a slump in a game but instead of a week, two weeks, you know, (it’s) two games.”

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