Adams still encouraged by spring play after demotion
JUPITER, Fla. -- As he faces a situation of uncertainty, Matt Adams knows this for sure: he has more baseball to play.
After a solid Spring Training, in which he hit .325 with an .850 OPS in 20 games, the 34-year-old Adams was told by manager Dave Martinez on Saturday he will not make the Nationals' Opening Day roster. After speaking with his wife and agent, Adams decided to travel with the team to Washington, for its exhibition game against the Yankees and gala on Tuesday.
If he does not find a Major League opportunity with another club between now and Opening Day, Adams plans to join the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings to start the season.
“It's tough to hear, especially coming in and doing everything that I possibly could to put myself in the position to possibly have my name called to be on the roster,” Adams said Sunday before the Nationals' 2-2 tie against the Marlins in the Grapefruit League finale. “But I totally understand, and I can walk away with my head held high.
“I'm very proud of the way that I came in and handled myself and the way I went about my business, to the teammate that I was and all the knowledge and stuff I gave to the younger guys -- that was a blast. It was a lot of fun. [I’m] going to just continue to keep putting the uniform on and going to play the game that I love.”
The final decisions in camp can come down to a team needing more than individual numbers. As the Nationals round out their roster -- which they are not expected to do until after Tuesday’s exhibition game -- they are eyeing defensively versatile players. There has been an emphasis on players who can play both the infield and outfield when needed.
“I was joking with my wife and my agent yesterday -- I think I shocked myself a little bit,” said Adams. “Just being out of Spring Training for a few years and coming back in this year and being thrown right in the fire and facing some of the best pitchers in the league, I was super, super proud of myself, super grateful for these guys giving me the opportunity to come into camp and showcase my skills and show that I can still do it. I think that was a huge step in my growth … I want to keep learning each and every day in this game, and I don't think that's going to stop when I'm done playing, either.”
Adams signed a Minor League deal with Washington in December, after he played 205 games with the Nats during the 2018-19 seasons. He appeared in 38 games for the Braves and Rockies from '20-21, and he competed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the independent American Association in ‘22.
Adams rejoined the club with which he won a World Series in 2019 this spring as a veteran leader. Adams, a 2009 Draft pick, said he “fell back in love with the game again.” The Nationals would like him to share that enthusiasm and knowledge with players on the Red Wings as they work toward the bigs.
“He’s very humble about his situation and what happened,” said Martinez. “Here’s a guy that was in the big leagues for a very long time. He was with us, he played independent ball last year, and it was kind of a little bit of a rude awakening. But his passion for the game is still the same, and that’s what I love about him … He’s a great addition to this organization -- again -- and I love that he’s here.”
Martinez has encouraged Adams to continue imparting his experience to his younger teammates while staying ready with Rochester. As the Nats develop their young, future core this season, they also are looking for “players to help us win in the big leagues” when considering callups.
“I'm fully expecting to go there, do my thing and expect to get a call sometime throughout the season to be able to bring that knowledge back into the big league clubhouse and help those guys go out there and compete and win games,” Adams said. “I have a different perspective that I’m looking at this time around, and I’m super grateful for the opportunity to put the Nats jersey back on -- whether that's in the big league level or in Rochester. Being part of this organization means a lot to me and my family, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.”