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Jimmy Lambert Defies The Odds



When spring training opened in February, Jimmy Lambert already had his sights set.

“My goal last year when I elected surgery was to pitch in the big leagues in 2020,” the 25-year-old righthander said. “And so with my surgery being June 26, I knew I'd be 12 months out right about the middle of the season.”

A rising prospect for the White Sox in 2019, Lambert was off to a great start with Double-A Birmingham when he started experiencing elbow discomfort that led to Tommy John surgery.

Lambert bided his time, made a relatively quick recovery and ultimately pushed his way onto the 30-man Opening Day roster this season.

Back in spring camp, Lambert pitched one scoreless inning in the Cactus League and was likely headed back to Birmingham or Triple-A Charlotte to get built back up.

When the coronavirus pandemic shut down baseball on March 12 and wiped out the minor league season, Lambert didn't know what was going to happen.

He was invited to summer camp in early July and caught the eye of the major league staff.

Chicago opened the 60-game season with 11 relievers, and Lambert was one of them.

“It's definitely been a crazy 13 months, a crazy last five months,” he said. “Obviously, my goal when I got invited to summer camp was to make the roster. I didn't know how realistic it was, with being where I was through surgery and whatnot.”

Through four minor league seasons, the 2016 fifth-round pick out of Fresno State was a starter in 68 of 70 appearances. Beginning his major league career as a reliever was an adjustment Lambert was happy to make, though his progress was interrupted by a right forearm strain after two appearances.

“It's a little bit of an adjustment,” he said. “I think the biggest adjustment is just not knowing when I'm going to pitch. But in terms of making pitches, I don't think it matters if I'm starting a game in the first inning or if I come in in the fifth or sixth. I still have to make my pitches and throw strikes.”

CHI-LITES

— Righthander Carson Fulmer was designated for assignment after his command issues continued in summer camp. The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft was claimed on waivers by the Tigers.

— In addition to Jimmy Lambert, rookie righthander Codi Heuer also won a job in the big league bullpen.

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