Andrew Lambo has become the trendy prospect pick who fans want to see promoted to solve the Pirates' offensive woes in right field.

It wasn't long ago his career was in jeopardy.

Major League Baseball suspended the then-Dodgers prospect 50 games in 2010 for violating the minor league drug policy and Lambo lost most of last season to a wrist injury.

“It took me a couple of dark years to get me to go back and ask if I was giving everything I've got” said Lambo who ranks third in minor league baseball with 28 home runs and fourth with 87 RBI splitting time with Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis. “Was I really working hard and do I really care about my career? Sometimes you can take this game for granted and it can come back to bite you.”

Lambo played nine games last season for the Gulf Coast League Pirates and credits then-manager Tom Prince for helping turn around his career.

“There were some differences but he definitely brought out a human being that needed to be brought out” Lambo said. “(Prince) dug deep and knew there was something in that tank and he brought it out. I can't thank him enough because the way I was going about the game was the wrong way.”

After his suspension — MLB said he tested positive for a “drug of abuse” as opposed to a performance-enhancing substance — Lambo was traded to the Pirates organization. He had a subpar 2011 season with Altoona and Indianapolis (.236 11 home runs 58 RBI) before missing all but 35 games last year with a wrist injury.

“The Pirates definitely took a risk” Lambo said. “I felt I needed to come out and prove myself and show not only the Pirates but baseball my talent. They definitely took a risk and it's something I took to heart.”

Lambo said he rededicated himself in the offseason putting a renewed effort into each practice and workout.

“However hard you want to work at it and however hard you're going to work at it is what you're going to get out of it” Lambo said.