Lovullo: D-backs searching to get 1Bs Walker, Lamb more at-bats

Apr 2, 2019, 3:44 PM | Updated: 8:21 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker drops his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the...
Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker drops his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, March 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has been faced with a bit of lineup shuffling early on this season.

Arizona prepared to lose Paul Goldschmidt in an offseason trade that’s complicated who replaces him at first base, but the puzzle now extends beyond that position.

Slugger Christian Walker started the season-opener because the D-backs liked the matchup against left-handed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers. But now expected starter Jake Lamb finds himself in no-man’s land after Walker has started off batting 6-of-11 with two home runs, two doubles and just two strikeouts through Arizona’s 2-3 start.

Lovullo’s hand has been forced by Walker’s surge.

“A little bit,” Lovullo told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “He may be a surprise to the rest of the league but not to us. He’s been doing this in the minor leagues for the last couple of years. There’s been some spurts of it when he comes up to the big leagues.”

Moving Lamb back to third base, his natural position, could be the answer to allowing Walker to gain more opportunities. Doing so, however, would then push current starting third baseman Eduardo Escobar to second or the bench.

“We have to be creative as possible if we want to get the right guys with the right matchups, but it’s something we’re thinking about, for sure,” Lovullo said.

It’s on Lovullo to determine how to also get Lamb a look around Walker and Escobar, who are expected to be two of the team’s more dynamic hitters.

Lamb has the talent.

He was an All-Star in 2017 but over his career has struggled against lefties. Since 2016, he’s hit .156 against southpaw pitchers and .270 against right-handers.

The Diamondbacks had discussed giving Lamb reps at third base late in spring training, but a minor injury led them to focus on his health for Opening Day. In four games played this year, Lamb has 11 at-bats with two hits (.182 average) and three walks with four strikeouts.

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Lovullo: D-backs searching to get 1Bs Walker, Lamb more at-bats