Adam defies odds, returns from grisly injury

September 24th, 2021

CHICAGO -- As made his way through the Cubs' dugout, teammates leaned over the elevated bench, reaching down to offer high-fives and fist bumps. When the reliever walked into the clubhouse, Justin Steele gave him a hug.

In the opener of a doubleheader on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Adam struck out the side in the seventh inning in an 8-5 loss to the Cardinals. For the right-hander, this was a remarkable victory, given the severity of the left ankle injury he sustained in May.

"In a lot of ways, it was like the debut," Adam said. "And in a lot of ways, it was actually even cooler."

Prior to the twin bill with St. Louis, the Cubs selected Adam's contract from Triple-A Iowa. The pitcher was optioned to the affiliate but recalled to the Major League bullpen as the "29th man" for the day.

On May 21, when Adam sustained an open dislocation and fracture of his left ankle -- a freak injury that happened while he was running down a fly ball during batting practice with Iowa -- he wondered if he'd ever pitch again.

"Initially," he said, "when I was still laying on the field."

Prior to Friday's games, Cubs manager David Ross said the early feedback from the team's medical staff was that there was "almost a zero percent chance" the righty would return in 2021. Adam was in Chicago's Opening Day bullpen, but he struggled (8.22 ERA), was released and rejoined Iowa on a Minor League deal. His future was in doubt.

The 30-year-old Adam said he tackled his rehab as best he could -- playing catch on his knees while still in a medical boot early in the process -- with the hope of defying the odds. Within the past couple of weeks, his ankle finally stopped hurting while he pitched.

"That's when I was like, 'Oh cool, I'll get to go and finish the season with Triple-A,'" Adam said. "I was just thankful for that. So this is kind of like the cherry on top."

Ross called Adam's promotion an "easy callup," and the manager was happy to have an inning for the righty in Game 1. Adam responded by striking out Nolan Arenado, Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong in order.

"That was really special to watch," Steele said. "I was fired up for him. Those are the things that mean a lot in this game."

Hoyer: Ross has done 'fantastic' job
As the Cubs' season nears its end, the questions about Ross' future with the team will undoubtedly gain momentum. Prior to Friday's doubleheader, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer praised Ross, but he said that is a topic for the offseason.

Ross is under contract through 2022 (with an option for '23), but he could be in line for an extension.

"It's a fair question next week," Hoyer said. "I love working with him. He’s already an excellent manager, and I think he has a chance to be really special in his job."

Worth noting
• Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel had a made-for-GIF moment on Wednesday when he made a diving catch in the first inning to rob Minnesota's Brent Rooker of a hit. Schwindel popped to his feet and animatedly pointed toward Chicago's dugout.

It turns out that Schwindel was pointing to bench coach Andy Green, who doubles as the Cubs' infield coach.

"That's probably the biggest compliment you can get from a player," Ross said. "In that moment, it was like, 'Hey, I appreciate you. We're working. This stuff's paying off and I'm loving every minute of it.'"

• In a wide-ranging discussion with reporters on Friday, Hoyer noted that the Cubs expect to be "really active" in free agency this offseason.

"We're probably going to be a little more active than usual," he said. "We have a lot more open spots. ... But we want to do it in a thoughtful and intelligent way."

• Hoyer's search for a new general manager is underway. The interviewing process has started, and the preference would be to have a GM in place for the bulk of the offseason.

"Honestly, it's kind of restored the joy of playing baseball in a lot of ways. You know baseball's a business, and you get caught up in that. But you just realize that it's a gift that I get to play every day." -- Adam, on his comeback