Lambert has been impressive (PHOTO/WENDY SMITH)
Casey Lambert has made a fast trek since he was selected with the Chicago Cubs’ sixth-round pick in the 2007 draft from Virginia. Last season the left-hander, who turned 23 this off-season, had already advanced to Class AA Tennessee within a year after being drafted. He combined for a 2.82 ERA and 60 strikeouts to 22 walks in 67-1/3 innings between Advanced Class-A Daytona and Tennessee in 2008.
Q: Pitching coordinator Mark Riggins is pretty keen on moving guys into starting roles to get a better look at what they have. Is that a branch that’s been extended to you, or do you feel the Cubs already have a good idea of what they have in you?
A: No, I don’t anticipate them moving me into a starting role at all. I think they pretty much have seen what I can throw. I think at this point in my career, I’m probably just going to stick to the bullpen. They haven’t indicated to me that they’re going to try to start me.
Q: Has your progression taken you by surprise? You were already at Double-A within a year of the draft.
A: I wasn’t really surprised; I’ve always expected to do well at whatever level I’ve been, but definitely I’ve been pleased with my progress so far. I’m definitely where I want to be at this point in my career. I had a goal for myself to get to Double-A at some point last year and I accomplished that, so I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I am very happy.
Q: Were you surprised not to be invited to big league camp?
A: No. In the back of my mind, it would have been nice. It’s nice to know a lot of the guys that you kind of want to get around, but I didn’t really take it personally that I wasn’t invited. (There is) only a certain amount of guys that they can take, so I’m going to go and report here in the beginning of March, and wherever they have me pitching, I’m just going to hope that I do well and maybe get moved into some big league games at some point.
Q: Dennis Lewallyn said your breaking ball was good enough to get you to Double-A, but that now the key is commanding your fastball. Do you feel you did a good job of that last season?
A: Yeah, definitely. Being in Double-A, guys are a lot more disciplined at the plate and you’ve got to be able to keep them off balance and not just rely on one pitch. I think that was what made me as defensible last year; I was able to not only throw my curveball, which is my best pitch, but also throw a lot of fastballs and keep them off balance, and throw a lot of changeups.
Q: Your breaking ball is already there. How has the development of your changeup gone?
A: I’ve been working a lot on my changeup in the off-season. I’m definitely pleased with the way it’s coming on right now. I would say that’s by far my best pitch in the last year or two. I’m definitely confident in throwing it any count to any hitter. It’s a nice thing to have, knowing that I don’t need to rely on one or two pitches; that I’ve got that changeup when I need it.