Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Adams Feels Comfortable with Swing Changes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Adams Feels Comfortable with Swing Changes

Article excerpt

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. * When it comes to his re-centered swing, Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams says the "trial period" is over. He's back to feeling comfortable in the box. He can make his adjustments in between pitches, instead of in between at-bats.

His final trip to the plate beneath a blazing sun in the fifth inning of Wednesday's 8-8 exhibition draw at Champions Stadium revealed an example, when the lefthanded hitter knocked the third pitch he saw from Braves righthander Daniel Winkler for a double ... into left field.

"The guy had a good cutter. I was ready for the cutter," Adams said. "The 1-2 pitch that I hit was a changeup, away. Normally, if this was last year, I would probably roll over to the second baseman.

"Being able to recognize that pitch, and stay on my back side, and let it travel a little bit, to where I could fight that pitch off ... that was one of the good things I saw."

Adams, batting fifth, went one for three with an RBI on a fielder's choice, and had a sacrifice fly. He immediately diagnosed his first-inning groundout he was a hair in front on a changeup from Braves starter Jhoulys Chacin in time to advance Randal Grichuk to third in the third. The laser to left followed.

"He can use all fields," manager Mike Matheny said. "I watched him all through the minor-league system do the same thing. He still has another gear of power, and shouldn't be just focused on pull power."

Adams spent a crucial offseason focusing elsewhere. He toned his 6-foot-3, 260-pound physique and feels "looser" in the field. He polished his defense. He pleased Matheny by buying in on the bunt as an option to exploit the defensive shifts he often faces. And he put his swing, the factor that will ultimately determine if he wins the starting job, under the knife as he worked to stop lunging and resume slugging.

What Adams didn't know during his self-improvement plan if he did, he hides it well was that the race between him and fellow lefty Brandon Moss would welcome another challenger. Spring training has shown that lifetime left fielder Matt Holliday is an increasingly realistic option at first, that his shift to the infield is less about a career extension down the line and more about right now.

Clearly, this is a less than ideal development for Adams. He's trying to prove he's the best first baseman, not the best lefthanded option. But the only member of the competition who doesn't play another position is applying the same offseason mentality that rejuvenated him after a quadriceps injury limited him to 60 games (and five home runs) in 2015 to the challenge that is Holliday's emergence in 2016. …

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