Andrew Lambo drives ball deep to right field against the Twins this afternoon at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.
By Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A 2-for-23 start is not the way Andrew Lambo drew it up.
Yet the Pirates don't want him getting caught up in those numbers right now as they give him every opportunity to find his swing in spring training.
"I'd like to see him just continue to go up there and not be caught up in the result," said manager Clint Hurdle. "See the ball good. Hit the ball hard where it's pitched. Those are things we're continuing to remind him of. That's when he's at his best."
Lambo has drawn three walks, including one Wednesday in his final at-bat, which came right before Travis Ishikawa's home run off Minnesota's Kevin Correia.
Lambo has played in 11 of 14 games as a starter or late substitution -- but hasn't yet strung together consecutive hits.
"We're ironing some things out. Obviously, I didn't start out where I wanted to or I'd like to, but I'm not hanging my hat on hits right now," said Lambo. "The approach is there. I'm just missing some pitches, and you know at this level you can't miss pitches. We're going to get back to the drawing board and we'll iron some things out. I'm not giving up. And I'm not mentally out of it."
Lambo rocketed 32 home runs in the minor leagues last year, prompting the Pirates to send him to play first base in winter ball. Their thought was his power against right-handed pitching can make him an effective platoon partner with Gaby Sanchez.
But power isn't all they want.
"Home runs are thrown more than they are hit," said Hurdle.
"So, not every pitch is capable of being driven out of the ball park. Strike the ball. I'd like to see him just barrel the ball up consistently, hit it hard where it's pitched."
Lambo popped to left field and grounded out to first before drawing a sixth-inning walk Wednesday.
He said the grounder came on a cutter inside -- and he missed a ripe fastball earlier in that at-bat.
"That at-bat, I missed a couple. I missed one I should've put a better swing on," said Lambo.
"Then, you go into battle mode. Try to see it. He threw a couple good pitches after that and was effective."
Hurdle said the plan is to continue giving Lambo the at-bats he needs to find some success.
"We're going to keep feeding him at-bats. The work he's doing around first base has been good.
"The one thing that we're trying to help him along with is he doesn't need to carry this club by any means," said Hurdle. "He just needs to go play."
No need for replay
The Pirates had their first opportunity to challenge a call with expanded instant replay Wednesday, but there were no close calls for Hurdle, nor Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to argue.
Jason Grilli, Stolmy Pimentel and Tony Watson pitched innings in minor league camp Wednesday.
Grilli went one inning against the Philadelphia Phillies' Class AAA team, giving up two hits, two earned runs and a home run.
Pimentel pitched three innings against the Phillies Class AA team, giving up four hits, one earned run while walking one and striking out one.
Watson pitched two innings in relief of Pimentel giving up one hit, and striking out one.
Alvarez impressed Hurdle
Pedro Alvarez has continued to have a very productive spring, one Hurdle called his best yet.
"I've never seen him have this kind of spring," said Hurdle.
"Even last year when the results weren't there, there was a different walk, talk, now this year the focus coming in has been really good. The overall team's approach to batting practice, drill work, has matured a little bit. He would fall into that category.
"This has been far and away his most relaxed, best approach at the plate we've seen."
Alvarez hit his second home run of spring in the third inning Wednesday and is batting .320.
Ripken promoting his book
Cal Ripken, Jr. will be at the Pirates-Tampa Bay game in Port Charlotte Thursday promoting his new children's book "Squeeze Play," which is co-authored with Baltimore Sun sportswriter Kevin Cowherd.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.
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