Lambo Turning A Corner

Outfielder gets a change of scenery

PITTSBURGH—Andrew Lambo had a terribly turbulent summer, from a drug suspension to a trade to a shoulder injury, but he finally found his stride in the fall.

Lambo, 22, hit .274/.325/.462 in 28 games for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League, including four home runs and 23 RBIs. He has delivered when it counts, too: On Nov. 9, he hit a walkoff grand slam in the ninth inning to beat Surprise, 7-5. After a 1-1 count, he fouled off five pitches, then went deep to right field.

"Andrew is sticking to the core keys in his swing, working on them consistently," farm director Kyle Stark said. "He's been among the best on his team out here at getting early work daily, and he's carrying it over into the game."

"I'm having a blast," Lambo said. "Mentally, I need to be on the ball. That's the big thing. I need to be on the ball and drive it."

Lambo is a 6-foot-3 corner outfielder who long has shown a lively bat—he batted .275/.353/.352 in helping Double-A Altoona to the Eastern League title, despite a sprained right shoulder in mid-August—but also has come with questions.

Lambo was caught smoking marijuana in high school and—while in the Dodgers' system—was suspended for 50 games on May 1 for a second positive test of a "drug of abuse" under the Minor League Drug Treatment and Prevention Program.

At the July 31 trade deadline, the Dodgers sent Lambo and righthander James McDonald to the Pirates for veteran closer Octavio Dotel.

"I've seen the effort and the progress so far," Stark said. "He's far from a finished product in this area, but he's working at it. We believe that continued growth as a man will translate into growth as a player."

Treasure Trove

• Righthander Aaron Pribanic, who drew raves from management in the summer for his heavy sinker at high Class A Bradenton, switched to relief in Arizona and had a 0.59 ERA in eight appearances for Mesa. Management will keep him in a starting role.

• The Pirates sought and received an extra option on first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who missed most of 2010 to a knee injury. Combined with the outrighting of Jeff Clement, that gave the team two experienced options in the minors for first base.