Lambo's last lap was more sudden than even he expected: He got to make his big league debut in Tuesday night's game against the Cardinals after Jose Tabata, in the original lineup in right field, had to be scratched with flu-like symptoms.
So Lambo got an immediate shot at fulfilling his goal of "being a part of what's going on here, and contributing any way I can." He went 0-for-3 in the Pirates' 4-3, 14-inning loss to the Cardinals.
Not too long ago, he couldn't be sure that shot would ever come.
"[Never getting here] definitely crosses your mind," the 25-year-old outfielder admitted. "You just got to go out and continue working hard. I wasn't doing things the right way, there were some things I needed to correct, in the way I went about this game."
The Pirates gave Lambo the one vacant spot on their 40-man roster, and made room for him on the 25-man active roster by optioning -- for the fifth time this season -- Alex Presley to Indianapolis.
Three months before his trade to the Pirates at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2010, Lambo drew a 50-game suspension from MLB for a second positive test for a banned drug. Because of the wording of that suspension, it wasn't a PED but a recreational drug. An arrest for marijuana possession as a California high school sophomore was part of his record.
Now, after cracking 31 homers between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, he is ready to start compiling a different kind of record.
"It was a time for reflection," he said of those days. "It fueled me harder to get up here. If you don't take advantage of it, time passes you by. I had to look in the mirror and ask myself if I was giving 110 percent. I needed some self-reflection ... and here we are."
"He deserves a lot of credit for re-igniting his pro career the way he has," said manager Clint Hurdle.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.