Lombard Back From Bum Thumb

With an 85-day stint on the DL behind him, outfielder George Lombard made his return to the Clippers lineup earlier this month. In hopes of salvaging his 2007 campaign, the veteran is looking to take advantage of his chance to turn things around during the second half of the season.

At this time of the year, most players are looking to get off to a fast start coming out of the all-star break. For George Lombard, that couldn't be any truer. Lombard suffered an unfortunate thumb injury early in the spring, and after trying to play through it in April, he was forced to go on the DL for nearly three months. As the second half begins, Lombard is ready to put the injury behind him.

"It was frustrating," Lombard told CapitolDugout.com Sunday. "I did it early in spring training and then tried to rehab it, but it just didn't quite work out. It's frustrating. I took my two months off wearing the cast, and now I've just got to get focused, turn the page, get back in a uniform and do it all over again."

It was a long three months for Lombard as he went through the rehab process. Before he was able to get back on the field with the GCL Nationals, there were a few things Lombard had to do to ensure the thumb was healthy. Interestingly, Lombard is not the only Nationals player to have experienced a significant thumb injury this year.

"It's the same thing that our shortstop Cristian Guzman just did," Lombard said. "It's called gamekeeper's thumb and it's really common. I spent one month in a hard cast, and that was nice because I could stay at home with my family. There is nothing you can do. Then, I had another month in a splint so I could run and stuff like that. As soon as I got out of the splint, I started with strengthening and started getting at-bats. They did a good job with it, and I probably got about 20 at-bats in Florida before I got here."

The Georgia native hit .467 while he rehabbed in the Gulf Coast League and then returned to the diamond against Charlotte on Thursday. Lombard hit his first home run of the season Friday and he said that he has had no problems with the thumb thus far.

Columbus finds itself 12.5 games out of first place going into Monday's game. As of late, a lack of offensive production has been the storyline day in and day out. A veteran player with a relaxed attitude in the clubhouse may be exactly what this struggling Clippers ball club needs in order to turn it around during the second half.

"My philosophy is to play the game like it's your last," Lombard said. "Try and keep your energy up. As you get older, you appreciate the game more. Leave everything on the field and just play every game like that. You've got to play the game smart, but you've also got to enjoy it."

Lombard is one of several Clippers who have had multiple stints in the big leagues. After making his debut with his first organization, Atlanta, the 30-year-old saw time with Detroit and Tampa Bay before spending the end of last season with Washington. When asked about which of his experiences meant the most to him, Lombard said that his debut sticks out, but all of his trips to the big leagues were special in one way or another. 

"It was pretty exciting to finally get a chance to make plays and hit that first home run," Lombard said of his debut in 1998. "Also, when I got traded to Detroit, it was the first year I got to really play in the regular season. Last year was just as rewarding as any when I got to get back there. I hadn't been there in two years. It's always exciting."

Now that he is healthy again, Lombard is hoping to make a few more memories at the major league level. Although he is always pursuing his goal of being an everyday outfielder in the majors, the veteran knows he has to be patient along the way. 

"My goal is always to be in the big leagues," Lombard said. "I enjoy playing baseball, but I want to play at the highest level. First, I just have to get some at-bats. I can't control who makes the moves up and down. Just play, be more consistent, stay healthy and let everything fall into place."

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