Pirates notebook: Andrew Lambo, Nick Kingham making major strides

PIRATES NOTEBOOK



Saturday night, Andrew Lambo went 4 for 4 with two home runs in support of Nick Kingham, who earned the win with six innings of three-earned run ball, no walks and three strikeouts.

Keep an eye on these two as September call-ups roll around.

Right fielder-first baseman Lambo played in 18 games late in 2013, and right-handed pitcher Kingham has yet to make his major league debut.

"Kingham's been pitching very well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Kingham's been pitching well, doing a nice job. [He is a] command guy on both sides of the plate, similar to [Brandon] Cumpton in some aspects with his arm-side command to righties and glove-side command to lefties; changing speeds, aggressive. Lambo has come back, is healthy and has gotten off to a good start."

That comeback would be Lambo's recent return from surgery May 28 he had on his ulnar collateral ligament of his right thumb. Lambo's first series back against Class AAA Columbus this past weekend saw him register seven hits in 12 at-bats with a walk and two home runs. In 37 games this season, he is batting .331 with a .431 on-base percentage and 26 RBIs.

"It's been great to see him get rewarded for how hard he worked on his rehab," general manager Neal Huntington said. "... He's been able to jump back much quicker than most young players or most players come back from thumb surgery and he deserves a ton of credit. ... His versatility to play left, right, first, pinch-hit, be a regular bat, he's got a lot of upside, a guy we were excited about going into spring training. It didn't go the way we had thought it would, but he is certainly still in our plans."

A rotation that has been hampered at times by inconsistency and injuries could give Kingham, 22, the opportunity to make an impact down the road. He has started 12 times this season and is 5-8 with a 2.64 ERA between Class AA Altoona and Indianapolis.

Kingham has pitched in seven games in Indianapolis. He is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.00 and has made it to at least the sixth inning in every contest. He also has an ERA of 0.77 against right-handed batters.

"Nick's done what he did to get to [Class AAA]," Huntington said. "He's attacked the zone well, has thrown quality pitches, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate, attacked hitters weaknesses while mastering his pitch development. Still got a ways to go, but a young guy we're very excited about as a future major league starting pitcher."

Despite the production from both, the earliest time it would seem that either could make an impact is next season. Kingham just made the jump to Class AAA and has multiple pitchers in front of him such as Vance Worley and Cumpton, while Lambo simply does not have a spot right now with the offensive efficiency.

Marte bats

Starling Marte pinch-hit Sunday and walked. He left a game Friday after taking a fastball off the helmet and did not play Saturday.

Cole update

Gerrit Cole, who is on the disabled list because of pain and tightness in the right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back, threw a bullpen session Sunday.

"We'll see how he feels [today] and work through what the next step is," Huntington said.

RJ Schaffer: rschaffer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rjschaffer.


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