PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lane Adams will never know what might have happened had he pursued his passion to play college basketball. But as he finally finds himself in a big league camp with a legitimate chance to be on an Opening Day roster, he remains thankful to those
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lane Adams will never know what might have happened had he pursued his passion to play college basketball. But as he finally finds himself in a big league camp with a legitimate chance to be on an Opening Day roster, he remains thankful to those friends and family members who urged him to continue his baseball career.
"I don't know how many big league camps I've been to, but this is definitely the first one where I've had a chance to come in and be on the Opening Day roster," Adams said. "It's definitely exciting."
Last year, Adams was thankful whenever he was brought over from Minor League camp to serve as an extra roster member for the Braves in Grapefruit League games. He would lug his bats and equipment over to the big league clubhouse and place them between the makeshift "locker space" he created between a laundry bin and garbage can.
This year, Adams has a legitimate locker, and more importantly, a realistic chance to extend the role he earned last summer, when he served as one of the primary members of Atlanta's bench. He is currently projected to serve as the right-handed portion of the left-field platoon the Braves will likely use until top prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. is promoted to the Majors.
"All I really wanted was an opportunity to be on the roster on Opening Day," Adams said. "I know nothing is etched in stone, but the opportunity itself is all I could really ask for. The rest is on me."
Adams has certainly proven himself and significantly altered his career path since he began last season frustrated by the fact he was in Triple-A Gwinnett's lineup on an every-other-day basis. He was 27 years old, in the midst of his ninth Minor League season and nearly a decade removed from that period when he was drawing attention from college basketball coaches.
Still, like he had done a few other times over the previous eight years, Adams thought about walking away from baseball to possibly pursue his dream to play hoops for Oklahoma State. Fortunately, he persevered, benefited from a few mechanical changes and found himself on Atlanta's roster by the end of April. His first stint in the Majors last year was a short one, but by June, he was a mainstay on the Braves' bench.
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Adams didn't' get regular playing time until the season's final month, and he admits he fought doubts about whether he belonged until Sept. 13, when he literally allowed himself to stare back at Max Scherzer and began a three-hit night by recording two of them -- a third-inning single and fifth-inning triple -- against the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
"You can curl up and just let him get the best of you or kind of lock horns and just kind of go with him. I decided to compete against him. I had a pretty good game that day, and that was the turning point where I said, 'I can do this,'" Adams said. "That was a big mental breakthrough right there. It gave me the confidence I needed to know I could compete with the best."
Now as Adams progresses through his fifth big league Spring Training, he has a different mindset and reason to thank those friends and family members who urged him to persevere whenever he thought it was time to walk away from baseball.
"I don't know what I would have done without their support," Adams said. "I'd probably be playing basketball somewhere."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.