Twenty Questions with Chase Lambin

Very few players make the jump from short-season to high A. Even fewer make it successfully. Chase Lambin wasn't just successful; he finished in the top 10 in the league in hitting and was a key cog in a championship team. So what does he do for an encore? How about 20 Questions with

Lambin was a 34th Round pick in the 2002 draft out of University of Louisiana-Lafayette and impressed the Mets in a short stint at Brooklyn by hitting .279 and slugging .447 as a shortstop. In 2003 he was a key cog at second base for the Florida State League champion St. Lucie Mets, including hitting the game clinching bases clearing double that put the final game of the championship series out of reach.

In addition to his top 10 batting performance, Chase was a team leader both on and off the field. His easy manner, determined competitiveness, and natural leadership qualities had both teammates and coaches alike singling him out for praise after the season.

Lets get to it...20 Questions with Chase Lambin!

NYF: Were you surprised with how well you did in St. Lucie this past season?

Lambin: In some ways yes, and in some ways no. First of all, my goal before Spring Training was to make the Cap City team. When I made the St. Lucie team I was very excited because I had heard how great the Florida State League was. I knew going in that hitters had a history of struggling in that league, so I just set a goal - not to lose my starting job and to continue learning and getting better. I learned a lot from HoJo and Obie throughout the season. But I also learned a lot from my teammates. We were such a close knit team, that if one person was struggling, the other guys would say or do whatever they could to help. It's easy to perform well with the group of guys I had around me.

NYF: What was the reason the Mets moved you from SS to 2B? How did you react to it initially? And how do you feel about it now that you've had a chance to play the position for awhile?

Lambin: I think at the beginning of the year our infield was a little shaky. Moving me to second gave them the opportunity to bring in Gil Velazquez, who brought a lot of experience and knowledge. This also gave (Rob) McIntyre and (Dave) Bacani a chance to play more. I think we all just got better and started to really come together as a team. I loved it. It allowed me to focus more on my hitting and gave me the opportunity to learn something new that could help my career. I'm still learning, but I made a lot of progress throughout the season and learned a lot during Instructs.

NYF: The 34th Round is a rather late round to be drafted in, being drafted so late did that make you feel like you had to come out and prove to people you should have been drafted higher or that you wanted to show other teams they should have drafted you? What factors do you think led to your being drafted when you were and why do you think you weren't drafted earlier in your amateur career?

Lambin: Being a senior, all I wanted was a chance to play pro ball. What round I went in didn't matter to me. I just wanted to get my foot in the door and make something happen. Once I got my chance I wanted to do everything I could to succeed. I don't think I had anything to "prove", I just wanted to work hard and enjoy the experience. There is no telling why I went so low, I'm not a scout, but I am glad there was one that believed in me.

NYF: Tell us about your experience at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Lambin: All four years in college were unbelievable, but Lafayette holds a special place in my heart. They have great food, great music, and great people. We beat LSU three times (they got us in regionals), and Tulane three times. I had a lot of fun, played good baseball, and met some life long friends. They embraced me, and the way I play the game, and for that I will always be thankful.

NYF: The Mets drafted Corey Coles this year in the draft and he also went to your college. Do you know him? If so have you talked to him or run into him at all? What advice did you give him?

Lambin: Corey Coles was a heck of a player in college, he was probably our best hitter. We were also drafted by the same scout (Bob Rossi). Corey is a good friend of mine, and I was very excited when I heard we drafted him. I called him that night and just told him to be patient, to work hard, and to listen to his coaches. We were at Instructs together and I tried to take him under my wing as best I could. He is a great athlete and has a very bright future ahead of him.

NYF: Throughout the season players came and went on St. Lucie. When this does happen is it initially hard for the team to adjust or is it a matter of just someone else stepping up to replace them? Do you feel any added pressure as one of their top offensive players to do more or do you just continue to play your game?

Lambin: To tell you the truth, you don't really think about it. Some of our best players got moved up during the season, but somebody always picked up the slack, that's just the kind of team we had. When Huber got called up, Brett Kay and Joe Hietpas did a tremendous job of filling his shoes. When new people came in, we welcomed them and explained to them that we were about winning, and to just go out and leave it all on the field. I didn't feel any added pressure; I approach the game the same way every day. This organization has so much talent, but more importantly, it has good people, which made it easy to adjust and just play ball.

NYF: What do you think are your greatest strengths are as a player? How would you describe your style of play? What would your scouting report on Chase Lambin say?

Lambin: I love to play the game. I think I am a hard worker and thrive off of competing and playing the game hard. I try to do the little things to help the team win. I love to get dirty and I think I have a good feel for the game. I like the mental side of the game, the cat and mouse game with the pitchers. I can hit a little bit and pick it a little, but I think my biggest strength is my passion and desire.

NYF: Your jump from Brooklyn to St. Lucie and your performance in the FSL has improved your status as a prospect. How do you plan on continuing to improve your status within the Mets system?

Lambin: Well I think it starts in the off-season. Y'all ("Youz guys" for the northerners) think we just fish and golf, but most of us are training every day (lifting weights, running, hitting, etc). I am just going to get in the best shape possible and try to have another good spring training. I have learned so much from our instructors during Spring Training, I just want to continue to pick their brains and develop as a player. From there we will see what happens.

NYF: If you had to take one of your teammates into battle with you who would you want and why?

Lambin: Wow, that's a tough one. Can I take all of them? The whole team last year were warriors. If I had to pick one, I would probably have to say Kole Strayhorn. He's a tough son of a gun. He loves to compete and is a loyal person. But I would have to have some other guys like D-Wright, Frankie Corr, McGinley, Petey, Eckert, Bobby, Byard, Kaz, and Hietpas (just to name a few!! ha!). All these guys would put up a heck of a fight.

NYF: You grew up in Texas, which is becoming a major sports state in baseball, football and basketball. Tell us a little about your sports background in HS and what sports you played besides baseball if any?

Lambin: I didn't play any other sports in high school, I just focused on baseball. Texas has a tremendous amount of athletes. We have a lot of pride in Texas. Our colleges are second to none and so are our women. I know one thing, it's better than Virginia (D-Wright) and Oklahoma (Kole)!

NYF: It's the day of a big game. You're standing in front of the stereo in the locker room. You're about to push play. Who do you Anna hear blasting out of the speakers to get you pumped up?

Lambin: It depends if we won or lost the night before. During our playoff run last year we listened to the same songs before every game. I think it was Busta Rhymes - I'm sure y'all have his CD. I like anything that is up beat, Rock, Rap, Hip Hop, etc. Kole always wanted country. I love country, but not to fire me up. D-Wright's walk up song was pretty's it go D? "to the window". Ha Ha, good times!

NYF: In the 2002 wrap press conference, both Jim Duquette and HoJo went out of they're way to praise your solid debut season. How did that play into your "breakout" 2003 campaign?

Lambin: To tell you the truth, I wasn't aware of that, so I guess it didn't have much to do with my second season. It's good to know though - those guys know the game and any compliment from them is extremely flattering. I wouldn't call it "breakout", I'd say more along the lines of "solid". I have a lot to improve on, and hopefully next year will be even better.

NYF: Your age (24) is pointed to as a reason for being skeptical about your prospect status. What are you doing to get younger (ha ha)? Seriously, though, does that affect your promotion schedule or your performance at all?

Lambin: Definitely not. I've been an underdog all my life. This is just another hurdle I have to get over. All I can do is perform on the field. The rest is up to other people. Being drafted as a senior automatically put me behind schedule, but I think if I continue to perform, my age really won't be a factor in the long run. If my biggest problem is my age, then I think I'm doin' all right.

NYF: You are constantly called out by your teammates as a player they admire or think is underrated. What attributes besides your stats do you think make them hold you in such high regard?

Lambin: I think it's because I am a good teammate. I care about my team, and I care about my teammates. I would take a bullet for any one of them. I play the game hard and I play to win, and people respect that. Other than that, I don't know, you'd have to ask them. Maybe it's my good looks - ha!

NYF: Which player or players that you've played with in the Mets system do you think have the best shots at being Major Leaguers?

Lambin: Well I think D-Wright and Kaz are going to have very successful Big League careers. D-Wright is a tremendous player and is one of the mentally toughest guys I've ever played with. Kaz's stuff is just plain scary. He is going to continue to develop and I just hope I can stay on his team so I don't have to face him.

NYF: What elements of your game have the Mets asked you to work on this season? What do you see as being the areas you need to work on the most?

Lambin: I need to work on all aspects of my game, but I think I need to work on defense the most. The Mets told me to continue working at short and to continue to develop around the bag at second. My agility and foot work...stuff like that.

NYF: In College you were primarily a middle of the order power hitter, but as a professional you've so far been more of a top or bottom of the order hitter. How has that changed your approach and has that been a difficult adjustment?

Lambin: Well, every year since high school, I've started the first game of the year in the nine hole, so I guess I have had experience throughout the entire line up. I try to have a good plan every time I go up to the plate, no matter where I am in the line-up. I just try to do what the situation tells me to do, move a runner over, drive in runs, get on base...whatever I have to do to help the team win.

NYF: You, Bobby Malek, and David Wright have been praised for the work ethic you brought to the park every day last year. The Mets made sure some of their younger prospects were around you guys at the end of the season. Did the Mets speak with you about providing guidance for the younger guys? Is that kind of leadership role something you consciously work on or is it just a natural outcome of the way you go about your business?

Lambin: They never spoke to us about providing guidance. Young guys can learn a lot just by watching. D-Wright and Bobby are great guys to watch and emulate. I've always enjoyed the intangibles of the game. I think we are all students of the game and leadership is a result of that process.

NYF: Is there a specific coach or family member you attribute your work ethic to? Is there a specific Mets coach that you think has had a tremendous effect on how you approach the game?

Lambin: I attribute all my success and work ethic to my family. I watched my older brother Cash bust his tail everyday when I was younger. He was pretty hard on me, but he made me tough. My dad pushed me to be the best I could be, and always stressed mental toughness. My mom is my pride and joy, she is a tireless worker and an amazing person. All three of them make for an unbelievable support team. I am extremely lucky to have them. I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing coaches from Gary Carter to Brett Butler to Chris Chambliss. But one coach has really helped me tremendously - HoJo. He cares about his players and always has time to work with us. HoJo taps - ha!

NYF: With the Mets pursuing second basemen this off-season and talking about moving Reyes to 2B for Kaz Matsui, how does that affect your approach to the 2004 season?

Lambin: It doesn't affect my approach at all. I don't worry about things I can't control. All I can do is play hard, have fun, and respect the game.

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