Adams happy with current role
PITTSBURGH – Matt Adams might have grounds for frustration.
He might have reason for resentment.
He might even have reason to feel a little bit sorry for himself, and wish that he were in another place at another time.
But Adams harbors none of those toxic sentiments, and he will hear nothing about them.
After all, the Philipsburg-Osceola High School and Slippery Rock University product is living a personal dream as a member of one of Major League Baseball’s blueblood teams, the St. Louis Cardinals.
And the fact that he’s doing so as a part-time first baseman and designated hitter whose ability and numbers might warrant a starting position with plenty of other teams doesn’t concern him.
Only helping the Cardinals to win games, and ultimately, the National League pennant this year, does.
Adams, 24, entered play Wednesday night with a .285 batting average and seven home runs – including a two-homer game at Oakland June 29 – in 65 games. But he’s being blocked for playing time at first base by Allen Craig, a National League all-star who is batting .318 and is among the NL leaders in runs batted in with 79.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Adams knows that he could get a bigger piece of the playing pie somewhere else, but says that he doesn’t give it a second thought.
“I don’t think about that,” Adams said earlier this week before his Cardinals took on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a doubleheader at PNC Park. “I’m happy to be with these guys, and I’m happy to play with the teammates that I’ve got. My goal is to do anything that I can do to help the team get [wins], and hopefully, I can contribute enough to help this team get into the postseason.”
The lefthanded-batting Adams, who is in his first full year with the Cardinals this season after being called up from Class AAA Memphis in 2012, provides St. Louis with a good weapon to use in select situations. When veteran leftfielder Matt Holliday went on the disabled list with a hamstring pull, Craig moved to his spot in left field, and Adams was inserted at first base.
Adams has also provided the Cardinals – who lead the National League in both runs scored and team batting average – with a dangerous designated hitter to use against American League opposition this season.
“I’ve always hit for average and power, and coming off the bench, I want to have a solid [at-bat], keep the barrel [of the bat] on the ball, and keep the line moving,” Adams said.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny thinks that Adams has done that well.
“He’s a good fit for our club,” Matheny said. “He’s a young player who we’ve been able to get exposed to the league, and he’s not coming on to a club where he’s expected to carry all the weight. He’s done a nice job filling in defensively, and being productive [offensively] coming off the bench.”
Adams’ teammates have noticed that, too.
“I’m sure that he could [start for a lot of other teams],” Cardinals’ third baseman Daniel Descalso said of Adams, who was chosen by the Cardinals in the 23rd round of the 2009 amateur baseball draft. “He’s a guy who has been able to step in and give us good at-bats and drive in runs when he gets a start. He’s a great hitter. He’s shown that every time that he’s got a chance to play this year.”
Even though, due to Craig’s presence in the lineup, Adams’ playing time has been limited.
“It’s a tough thing for a young player to do – to be productive off the bench when you’re not getting to play every day,” Craig said of Adams. “I went through that earlier in my career, and I can certainly relate to the position that he’s in right now. He’s got a ton of ability, and he’s done a great job for us. He’s been a good team player, and he’s played an important role.”
Adams, a 2006 P-O graduate who had a guest list of 20 family members and friends for the first two nights of the five-game series with the Pirates – is developing with experience, too.
“Last year, in my first year in the big leagues, I was kind of anxious to prove that I could hit,” he said. “I chased a lot of [pitches] up, and a lot of [pitches] down. This year, my pitch selection is better. I’m laying off those pitches and getting pitches that I can hit.”
The results have given the Cardinals plenty of reason for optimism about Adams’ future.
“It’s been a nice start to what hopefully will be a long career for him,” Matheny said.