If everything had gone according to plan, Bryan Lambert might have been pitching in his home state this year.

There is still a chance that might happen, but injuries and some bad luck set the Washington Nationals farmhand and former Edward Little star back last year, and he’s still trying to catch up.

Lambert, 25, expects to be assigned to the Potomac Nationals, Washington’s high-A affiliate in Woodbridge, Va., when rosters are finalized this weekend. It’s a step up from the Class-A team he pitched for in Savannah, Ga., last year, where he divided his time between starting and relieving while posting a 3-10 record.

The 6-foot-9 right-hander had hoped to be hurling for the Harrisburg Senators, an Eastern League rival of the Portland Sea Dogs, by now, but he had arthroscopic knee surgery prior to last season and was hit on his pitching hand by a line drive late in the campaign. That made staying healthy a bigger priority than making a big leap in the minor league system when he reported to spring training in Viera, Fla., earlier this month.

“So much of the game is about numbers and what other people are doing that you can’t worry about the things you can’t control,” he said. “You have to focus on the things you can control.” What the 6-foot-9 Brandeis graduate can control is, well, his control, and he’s happy with the way he’s been throwing the ball this spring. He said his arm feels stronger than it has in some time, and he’s been focused on pounding the strike zone and attacking hitters, a point of emphasis in the Nationals organization.

This spring training has been a microcosm of Lambert’s minor league career. He has been used as a starter and in long and short relief over the last two years and during this preseason. He projects to be Potomac’s “sixth starter,” meaning he’ll begin the season in the bullpen and fill in any holes in the starting rotation when others are injured or promoted/demoted.

“I feel like I’m in the mix, and I’m getting a lot of attention, but there’s always that uncertainty,” said Lambert, who threw three solid innings in minor league camp Wednesday. “And (club officials) are always hesitant to tell you anything. It keeps you on your toes a little bit.” Former Oxford Hills star Garrett Olson can relate to having an undefined role. The fourth-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins is practically a one-man infield.

“I’ve been playing mostly third base, but they’ve had me a little bit at shortstop, a little bit at first base and some catcher,” Olson said Wednesday. “I don’t mind it at all.”

Rosters won’t be finalized until today, but Olson expects to be assigned to the Single-A Beloit Snappers in Beloit, Wis., one rung up the ladder from where he played last year, in Elizabethton, Tenn.

Olson, 22, played mostly third base there and hit .313 with 20 RBIs and 31 runs scored in 49 games. He was drafted out of Franklin Pierce College in June last year, so this is his first spring training.

“The days are long, from about eight in the morning to four or five in the afternoon,” the Norway native said. “We play a game every day at 1 o’clock.” Olson said Tyler Cummings, his friend and former teammate at Oxford Hills and Franklin Pierce, was released by the Kansas City Royals organization last week. Cummings went 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 15 relief appearances for their Rookie League club in Arizona last year.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.