LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Lane Adams came to Spring Training with a strong possibility of being placed on an Opening Day roster for the first time. But the outfielder's offensive struggles during the Grapefruit League season have jeopardized his status on the Braves' 40-man roster.Adams joins Charlie Culberson, Sam
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Lane Adams came to Spring Training with a strong possibility of being placed on an Opening Day roster for the first time. But the outfielder's offensive struggles during the Grapefruit League season have jeopardized his status on the Braves' 40-man roster.
Adams joins Charlie Culberson, Sam Freeman, Jose Ramirez and Chase Whitley as the members of Atlanta's 40-man roster who are out of Minor League options. This means none of them can be sent to the Minor League level without first passing through waivers.
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Culberson will begin the season as Atlanta's backup infielder, and both Ramirez and Freeman are projected to be key pieces in the Braves' bullpen. But there are no guarantees for Whitley, who has been sidelined this month by a staph infection, and Adams, who will need a strong final week to remain in contention for a bench spot.
Adams wasn't invited to big league camp last year, but he became a mainstay on Atlanta's bench by June and spent most of the regular season's final three weeks in the Braves' lineup. He benefited from some adjustments that hitting coach Kevin Seitzer helped him make. But after tinkering again with his swing this past winter, he came to Spring Training and encountered frequent frustration.
Since opening the Grapefruit League season by going 4-for-28 with 12 strikeouts, Adams has recorded five hits and struck out four times in his past 11 at-bats. The athletic outfielder hit his first homer of the spring in Friday's 12-9 loss to the Pirates.
The Braves haven't determined how many outfielders they will carry at the start of the season. Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis will fill two of the starting roles. Switch-hitter Danny Santana and Preston Tucker, a left-handed hitter, have positioned themselves to claim two other spots earmarked for outfielders.
Adams' presence on the 40-man roster might aid him in his battle with non-roster invitee Ezequiel Carrera to claim what could be the final roster spot for an outfielder. But he's far from being considered a lock to begin this season on Atlanta's roster.
Whitley has not pitched since Feb. 27 because of a staph infection that developed on his right heel. There's a chance he could be cleared to pitch in a game next week. But the Braves might opt to have this long-relief candidate begin the season on the disabled list.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.