BRANDON GUSTAFSON

‘It’s just full circle’: Jake Lamb ‘feels like a kid’ playing for hometown Mariners

Aug 6, 2022, 9:44 AM | Updated: 12:29 pm

Mariners Jake Lamb...

Jake Lamb smiles after scoring during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park on August 05, 2022. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

There’s not much that leaves Jake Lamb speechless, but a trade to his hometown team, the Seattle Mariners, is certainly on the list.

Mariners trade for local products Matthew Boyd, Jake Lamb

Lamb, 31, is a Seattle native who grew up going to Mariners games, rooting for the team, idolizing Ken Griffey Jr. and even attending the 2001 Home Run Derby at then-Safeco Field.

During Tuesday’s trade deadline, the former Bishop Blanchet High School and University of Washington standout got a call that he partially expected.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring left-handed slugger Joey Gallo from the New York Yankees, Lamb, who also hits left-handed, knew he may be moved. He didn’t expect to land in Seattle, though, but he’s certainly not complaining.

“When they said you’re traded to Seattle, I haven’t been speechless like that for a while just because it’s home, man,” Lamb told reporters before Friday’s game with the Angels, Lamb’s first game in uniform for his childhood team.

The trade was finalized on Tuesday, but it didn’t really hit Lamb that he was a Mariner until Thursday.

“It’s crazy, man,” he said. “Because (my wife and I) come home, but it’s never really in the summer. We’re always coming home in the offseason. But I mean, I grew up in this stadium, at the Kingdome, I came to the Home Run Derby here in 2001. I feel like I’ve gotten chills these past two days over and over and over.”

Lamb and his older brother, who he calls the biggest Mariners fan he knows, grew up pretending to be franchise icons Griffey and Edgar Martinez while playing in the backyard.

“We’d have our Seattle Mariner bats we would get at the game and I would be Griffey and he’d be Edgar,” Lamb said. “Yeah, it’s just full circle in every sense.”

Now, rather than pretending to be his favorite Mariner, Lamb is wearing a Seattle uniform with his name on the back. He’s also joining a team that’s well on its way to making the playoffs for the first time since Lamb was just 10 years old. That much is not lost on the nine-year MLB veteran.

“To come full circle and like, if I can be on that team that gets back to the playoffs, I just know how much the city appreciates and wants a winning team. And this team is a winning team,” Lamb said. “… It’s a really good team. I’m just happy to be here, and I can’t wait to start winning some games with these guys.”

Lamb was an All-Star in 2017 at 26 years old for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a year he hit 30 home runs and drove in 105 runs. That was a year after the lefty-hitting third baseman smacked 29 homers and drove in 91. He seemed well on his way to being one of the game’s best sluggers, but since then, Lamb is slashing just .206/.311/.362 and the Mariners are his sixth team since the start of the 2018 season.

This year with the Dodgers, Lamb saw all but five of his plate appearances against right-handed pitching, and he bounced around the diamond. That’s the plan for him in Seattle, he and manager Scott Servais said Friday.

“A little bit of corner outfield. I would imagine DH days against righties and then a little bit of third (base) whenever Eugenio (Suarez) needs a day (off). So I’m open for whatever, man,” he said. “… Whatever I can do to come in and help this team win and shoot, get back to the playoffs. I know how much that means to the city. I know how much that means to this team. Because I do know a decent amount of guys on this team just from previous history. I’m fired up, very excited.”

Lamb admitted he often didn’t care how the Mariners were doing in the past because he was focused on whichever team he was playing on. That wasn’t the case this year, even before the trade occurred.

“I feel like this year has just been different. I’ve been keeping an eye on them,” he said. “That stretch, the winning streak … They’ve got a whole lot of talent on this club … It’s just a whole lot of excitement. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

So, any pressure playing for his hometown team?

“I’m glad that I’m old enough now and I’ve been around long enough now to really, truly appreciate this,” he said. “The pressure doesn’t exist. I’m gonna have so much fun with this. And yeah, I want to do the best I can to help this team win, but I don’t believe in the pressure. I mean, there’s too much love around the city to feel the pressure. So I’m good. I feel like a kid again. I do. My body doesn’t feel like a rookie, but no, I do feel like a kid being in this building, for sure.”

And that pressure clearly didn’t get to Lamb Friday night, as he was called upon to pinch hit in the ninth inning, driving a single up the middle and later scoring in Seattle’s three-run ninth inning to help send the game to extras.

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