Adams taking reps in the outfield
First baseman shed 30 pounds this offseason
JUPITER, Fla. -- When his package of gloves arrived from Rawlings this spring, Matt Adams found exactly what he had ordered: A pair of first baseman's mitts and … an outfielder's glove?
"Just in case," Adams said.
Well, not anymore.
Manager Mike Matheny revealed the organization's plans to get Adams increased exposure in left field over the final weeks of Spring Training. That started in earnest on Saturday before the Cardinals' 5-4 loss to the Mets, when Adams joined other outfielders for a morning discussion with instructor Willie McGee.
Adams then planted himself in left field during batting practice so that he could track fly balls. For a player who has played exclusively at first base since being drafted, it's an unfamiliar perspective -- but also one that would enhance his versatility and perhaps give Adams another way to see more time on the field.
"I don't really know [if it will work] until we get a better look at it," Matheny said. "But even watching him shag, he's got some pretty good instincts. For people who watch him around first base, he moves pretty well. Now, covering ground is going to be a different issue.
"But I think we see guys in the league that have that same kind of build … if you want their bat in the lineup, we have to figure out places in the lineup to make it work."
Adams started shagging balls early in camp, just "messing around out there," he said. What he didn't realize was that Matheny was watching. And on Saturday, Matheny proposed the idea of taking the outfield work more seriously. Adams agreed, without hesitation.
"I told him I was up for anything," Adams said. "Whatever I can do to help this club, whatever I can do to work my way back into the lineup. I'm up for working."
Adams put himself in position for this possibility with the conditioning and agility work he did over the winter. It helped him shed 30 pounds -- Adams weighs in around 240 now -- and has Adams insistent that his "first step is way quicker than what it used to be."
Matheny said he'll "probably" get Adams at least one left field appearance in a Grapefruit League game this spring. Adams may get additional exposure in Minor League spring games. In the end, it may not be a position he plays much, if at all, during the regular season. For now, it's simply viewed as an opportunity for Adams to try and create added value. As it is, he's set to begin the year as the team's backup first baseman behind Matt Carpenter, who, as long as he stays healthy, won't take many days off.
"I feel like I could do it," Adams said. "[I] feel comfortable out there. [I'm] just working on the reads, getting better on reading the ball off the bat. [Batting practice] is a good spot to do that."