Andrew Lambo faced a tall task this spring. He had to continue his crash-course reintroduction to first base, he had to fight for a position on the active roster and he had to prevent one from influencing the other.

Lambo struggled at the plate and was optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis Tuesday, clarifying the Pirates’ plans for first base. Non-roster invitee Travis Ishikawa will make the active roster and back up Gaby Sanchez.

“Andrew exceeded expectations defensively and showed up very well there,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Offensively, the results obviously weren’t there. He faced a lot of fastball-count off-speed pitches. In our minds, the right thing to do to get him back on track was to have him start the season in Indianapolis.”

The Pirates had Lambo, 25, work at first base in winter ball and spring training in hopes that the left-handed batter could complement the right-handed Sanchez. Lambo had four hits in 42 at-bats this spring, none for extra bases.

“We talk all the time about not making emotional decisions based on spring training results,” Huntington said. “And that means good or bad. But, as we looked at a young player with some challenges remaining in front of him, we felt that the best thing for him was to start the season in Indianapolis.”

The Pirates hope a return to Indianapolis, where Lambo had 18 home runs and a .344 on-base percentage in 254 plate appearances last season, will stoke his confidence.