WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It was a transformative offseason for Matt Adams, who showed up at Spring Training about 30 pounds lighter and with a changed stance and swing.The former was, as Adams described it, "a lifestyle change," dictated not only by a desire to become more agile on
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It was a transformative offseason for Matt Adams, who showed up at Spring Training about 30 pounds lighter and with a changed stance and swing.
The former was, as Adams described it, "a lifestyle change," dictated not only by a desire to become more agile on the field, but also to ensure optimal long-term health. The makeover featured Pilates three days a week, strength work four days a week and conditioning every day, as well as a changed diet.
The alterations he made at the plate, however, proved a bit more complicated.
Seeking to tap into the new strength he developed from his winter conditioning work, Adams lowered his hands and sought to find a more efficient path to the ball.
"It's all based on comfort," Adams said.
He was committed to the change and encouraged by the power it produced in batting practice. And then all that progress hit a snag.
Adams opened the Grapefruit League season 0-for-12 with six strikeouts and no feel for his timing. It led him, over the past few days, to reevaluate those offseason tweaks. With the guidance of the team's two hitting coaches, Adams readjusted again. He kept his hands in his new position, but went back to an old timing mechanism.
The outcome? A two-hit day Thursday in which he took Bartolo Colon deep to left-center.
"I think what I was doing was I was getting by with the batting practice and the stuff in the cage," Adams said. "Then when you step in the box facing a guy throwing 94, 95-plus [mph] with some movement, I knew I was off. I knew I needed to make a change.
"I feel like I was able to do that over the last couple of days and now it's just keeping that feeling, making sure I come in each day and have that feeling. Build my confidence around that."
Adams is getting plenty of repetitions. He started six of the first seven days of Grapefruit League play and will be atop the depth chart at first base when Matt Carpenter leaves for the World Baseball Classic.
Those regular at-bats, however, won't be so easy to come by once camp ends. With the Cards committed to keeping Carpenter at first base, Adams is likely to land on the bench. And so he'll keep trying to make an impression now.
"He's still pretty young in this game," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's still figuring it out. But to me, he's one of those guys who has a whole lot of potential for big power. It's just going to take some tinkering here and there at times."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.