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Slugger Adams opening eyes with his glove

Filling in for Craig, Cardinals first baseman has worked hard to improve

PITTSBURGH -- With the body of an offensive lineman and a powerful swing that socked homers at an astounding rate down the stretch, Matt Adams might be seen by many through a one-dimensional lens.

But to anyone watching him pick Neil Walker's sharp one-hopper in the third inning Friday, along with a few other solid plays in the first two games of the National League Division Series, it's clear the Cardinals' hulking first baseman has been working toward being more than just a big bat.

"It's good to be able to make those plays," Adams said. "It's sweet, because we have such a great coach in [third-base coach Jose] Oquendo. He's the one who's really helped me get to the next level."

Adams hopes his work over the past couple of years continues to pay off as he subs for injured All-Star Allen Craig. He might still be a work in progress, but the progress is visible.

"When I first got drafted, the biggest thing was getting my hands ready, because I was a catcher and obviously didn't take a lot of ground balls in college," Adams said. "But then I really started up with footwork drills to get my feet faster, and I kept working on that the next couple of years.

"I know when my feet are right, my hands are going to be in the right spot."

Plus, Adams knows he's not alone out on the field. He's got Oquendo helping him with his every move, and he can follow the lead of one of the game's top catchers in Yadier Molina.

That's how Adams can make a pick like he did in Game 2, when he robbed Walker of extra bases.

"That one, I paid attention to Yadi and saw him moving inside, and Jose told me to come toward the line a little bit," Adams said. "He got around on that cutter and pulled it pretty good, and I was in the right spot."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for and writes a blog, B3. Follow Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Adams