Lambin Seeks To Plug The Gap

Lambin isn't worried about his early struggles

The ability to play all over the diamond can be quite pivotal for an up and coming minor league baseball player. Chase Lambin, infielder for the Norfolk Tides, fits this criteria as a true utility man. Lambin, 27, selected by the Mets in the 34th round of the 2002 draft, has a chance to become a diamond in the rough.

The 2006 season has not began the way Chase Lambin had envisioned. Baseball is a game of constant adjustments that has become the focus for Lambin and the Tides.

Even with the worst record in the International League and statistics that are not up to par, including a .173 batting average, the thought process and determination remains unchanged as we are only one month into this young season.

"You would rather finish good than start good," said Lambin. "You just have to stay optimistic and keep doing what you're doing because it's baseball, it's crazy."

Improvement in all aspects of his hitting has become Lambin's primary focus this season. He has seen his glove become his best friend, however, his bat has been a completely different story.

The potential is undoubtedly there as he simply needs to find the formula that brings his offensive game all together. Despite subpar numbers at the plate, Lambin believes he has made consistent strides with his bat even with the lack of results.

"I haven't hit well but I think I am doing some things right. You have to take the good with the bad and just because you're getting hits doesn't mean you're doing everything right," said Lambin.

Chase continues to believe that he is a good fit within the Mets' organization and feels he has the ability to become a consistent contributor in New York. Switch hitting is a tool many big league clubs look for in a player which is something Lambin possesses on his resume.

With the capability of playing multiple positions as well as switch hitting, Lambin seems to fit the role of a "plug the gap" type ballplayer.

With the money General Manager Omar Minaya spent in the offseason, the pieces to the puzzle appear to be mostly in place for the time being. However, if Lambin can find his stroke, it will not come as a surprise to many if he is wearing a big league uniform by season's end.

Lambin likes to think that his ability to play almost anywhere on the diamond could be beneficial in a role with the Mets.

"They (Mets) know I can play all over the diamond and am able to be a switch hitter," Lambin continued. "I think if I do well and a bench spot opens up I would do really well."

At times, pressure can come with the territory of a minor leaguer's repeated attempts at making a big league roster. The good ones block out the pressure while waiting for their time to come and Lambin believes he is doing just that.

Becoming an all-around player may be just as vital to success as actually making the major league roster. Lambin wholeheartedly agrees.

"It's not all about just making the big leagues, it's all about becoming a complete player," said Lambin.

In this his fifth professional season, Lambin has displayed unprecedented progress in his journey through the minor leagues as he set career-highs with 24 home runs, 33 doubles, and 121 hits last season between Binghamton and Norfolk.

He realizes he made significant strides offensively last season, however, it is evident he is focused on progressing his game even further and that there are always going to be both good days and bad days.

The amount of patience Lambin possesses concerning his drive to the Major Leagues remains to be seen. The question is how long will he wait for his potential to develop.

The sign of a patient ballplayer is one that continually works on their game every day despite what their statistics may show. For Lambin, the timetable is non-existent of his possible arrival in New York, however, after a very poor April, the need to improve is quite evident.

"When I first signed all I wanted to do was hit. You just have to learn to pick and choose your spots to make yourself a better baseball player and so far I think I have," Lambin continued.

Tides hitting coach Howard Johnson possesses all the confidence in the world that Lambin can achieve his goal of becoming a big leaguer.

"Every year he gets better and this year he hasn't got off to the numbers start he would like, but his approach is improving and I know things will fall for him as it is just a matter of time," said Johnson.

The revamped Mets have added a lot of high-quality talent to their club in the past six months and could add significant depth with that "plug the gap" type player such as Lambin depending on his progression.

As the Mets prepare for a run at a world championship, Lambin will continue to grind it out while hoping he receives a chance to turn his potential into reality on the big stage in the Big Apple.

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