A quintessential Seattle summer day greeted a quintessential Seattle kid in his return home Friday.
Jake Lamb, in his first day in a Mariners uniform, sat in the home dugout with his hat turned backward, a nod to his childhood hero (Ken Griffey Jr., of course). He wore Sue Bird’s colorful “Kyrie Low 4” Nike sneakers and a big grin on his face as he looked out across the diamond at T-Mobile Park on a perfect, 72-degree summer afternoon.
“I’m so biased,” he said, “but I tell everyone this is still one of the best places to play a big-league game. Days like this — this is why you come out here.”
Lamb grew up atop Queen Anne Hill, graduated from Blanchet High School and starred at the University of Washington. The Blue Angels roared above the Seattle skyline as Lamb described what it meant to him — and his family — when he learned Tuesday he was coming home in a trade-deadline deal.
“I feel like I’ve gotten the chills the past two days over and over and over,” he said. “It’s full circle in every sense.”
His parents cut short a vacation in Idaho to attend Friday’s series opener against the Angels. They watched from the edge of the infield as Lamb took batting practice for the first time as a Mariner.
“It’s crazy, man,” Lamb said. “I grew up in this stadium, and the Kingdome. I came to the Home Run Derby here in 2001. … I shaved my head because of Jay Buhner. Edgar Martinez, one of the sweetest swings you’ll ever see.”
An All-Star with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, Lamb, 31, will be a utility player and left-handed bat off the bench for the Mariners. A third baseman for the bulk of his career, Lamb played nine games in left field, two at first base and 14 as the designated hitter this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who dealt him to Seattle for a player to be named later (or cash).
In 77 plate appearances this year, he has a .239/.338/.433 slash line with two home runs, five doubles, eight walks and 24 strikeouts.
Julio Rodriguez (hand contusion) and Dylan Moore (back spasms) are on track to return from the injury list when they’re eligible next week, and until then, Lamb figures to get a chance to prove himself against right-handed pitchers.
After that, Mariners manager Scott Servais acknowledged there will be a roster crunch — and some tough decisions for club management to make, especially with Mitch Haniger’s expected return soon.
“That’s a good thing. Trust me, that’s a good thing,” Servais said pregame Friday. “That means we’ve got a lot of guys that are competing. And every time they go out there it means a lot. These games are really important for us.”
Lamb has made two postseason appearances in his career — with Arizona in 2017, and Oakland in 2020 — and he knows what a postseason berth would mean to folks in Seattle.
“Whatever I can do to come in and help this team win and, shoot, get back to the playoffs,” he said. “I know how much that means to this city. I know how much that means to this team. … I’m fired up.”
- Servais said Rodriguez has been feeling good and is expected to resume swinging a bat Saturday. Rodriguez is on track to be activated off IL when he’s eligible Wednesday, though Servais acknowledged the team could opt to give Rodriguez extra rest with an off day next Thursday before the start of the team’s next road trip.
- Moore (back) resumed baseball activity Friday afternoon. He’s eligible to return the same day as Rodriguez.
- Right-handed reliever Diego Castillo (shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen on Friday, and his shoulder issues have “calmed quite a bit,” Servais said.
- Haniger’s rehab assignment continues in Class AAA Tacoma. In 30 plate appearances between Tacoma and High-A Everett entering Friday, Haniger has eight hits, three homers, 10 walks and three strikeouts, with a 1.055 OPS. “He’ll let us know when he’s ready to go,” Servais said.
- Taylor Trammell is moving “in the right direction” as his rehab assignment continues in Tacoma.