John Lamb is most striking figure in Angels clubhouse by a hair
They have a superstar, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and an international standout.
And, yet, the Angel who really stands out in the clubhouse is a pitcher with two big league victories.
“I’m not saying I’m rocking the best ’do in this locker room,” John Lamb said. “It’s just something I feel like brings more character to me.”
With shoulder-length blond hair, the left-hander easily draws more eyes than Mike Trout, Albert Pujols or Shohei Ohtani.
Lamb’s notable locks even are the main or, of course, mane, attraction in a group that includes the magnificent beard of Matt Shoemaker and the Beatles-like mop top of Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s interpreter.
“I just don’t rock a mid-cut very well, in my opinion,” Lamb said, smiling. “Not that I rock this very well.”
His look, not long ago, was even more pronounced. Lamb said he had three to five inches cut off before he reported to camp last month, his hair previously extending to nearly his stomach.
Playing this winter in Venezuela, trying to give himself the best chance to return to the Angels and continue pursuing a big league job, Lamb said he left an impression on the locals.
Lamb, 27, spent last year at triple-A Salt Lake, where he was 6-3 with a 5.37 earned-run average in 13 starts.
He figures to open this season in Utah but, given the Angels’ recent history of pitching injuries, Lamb could be in Anaheim sooner than later.
The Angels used 13 starters in 2017, and that was while employing a traditional five-man rotation. They are planning to begin this season with a six-man group.
Lamb was granted free agency in November and remained unsigned through the holidays, a rather tenuous position for a former top prospect who has been beset by significant elbow and back problems.
Part of the 2015 deadline deal that resulted in Johnny Cueto becoming a Kansas City Royal, Lamb made 24 starts for Cincinnati in 2015-16 and was 2-12 with a 6.17 ERA.
“It was humbling this winter,” said Lamb, who grew up in Laguna Hills. “For the first time, I didn’t feel like I had a place to play. I knew something had to change if I wanted to keep chasing this dream.”
He signed with the Angels in January and reported to spring training as healthy as he has been in awhile. In two appearances this spring, Lamb has pitched four scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out four.
“I’m grateful to the Angels organization and thankful for the opportunity,” Lamb said. “I’m just trying to keep chasing a dream.”
Ohtani to DH
Ohtani is scheduled to appear in his next spring-training game Monday, as the designated hitter against Cincinnati in Goodyear, Ariz.
It will mark his third game as a hitter. He has pitched twice this spring.
The Angels aren’t just selling the notion of Ohtani being a potential two-way star this season. They’re also marketing Ohtani.
The team store at Tempe Diablo Stadium is full of items related to their newest acquisition, highlighted by a framed photo capturing his swing in three stages from his Cactus League debut as a hitter. The price: $119.99.
Available, too, are various T-shirts, jerseys, caps and a coin inside a photo commemorating Ohtani’s introductory news conference at Angel Stadium (display stand included). The latter item goes for $24.99.
Ohtani’s likeness also can be found on pennants, can coolers and beach towels. Depending on sales in 2018, he could prove to be a three-way star for the Angels.
Outfielder Chris Young is out of the walking boot he had been wearing as he continues to progress from a strained right calf. Scioscia said Young is at least a week away from playing. … For the seventh time in nine exhibition games, the Angels started a lineup lacking most of their regulars Saturday night against Seattle. Catcher Martin Maldonado was the lone projected opening-day starter who started. … Former Angel Torii Hunter visited camp. He is a special assistant in baseball operations for the Minnesota Twins.
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