WASHINGTON -- A few balls hit off the end of his bat told Matt Adams all he needed to know about the healing process of his fractured left index finger. It happened the first day he took batting practice after going on the disabled list, again during Monday's simulated game at Nationals Park, and once more during his Minor League rehab assignment on Tuesday.
Each time, Adams felt a sting, but then it went away, which let him know he was ready to return. He was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday morning, back much sooner than he anticipated after fracturing his left index finger earlier this month.
"That's a good thing," Adams said. "The vibrations of the ball from the bat and catching the ball, it's not feeling as bad. So it's a good sign. And just continue to keep taking it day by day."
Initially, Adams expected to be sidelined for about six weeks with his injury, but he returns to the Nationals after missing just 16 games. Adams' finger is not completely healed, but the discomfort is tolerable enough for him to manage in games. He tested it out during a rehab game for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Adams should slide back into a platoon at first base with Mark Reynolds -- who got the start on Wednesday -- and give the Nationals back one of their most productive hitters. Before the injury, Adams posted a .926 OPS with 13 home runs. And because he missed such a short amount of time, he does not believe getting his timing back should be an issue.
"The timing really didn't go anywhere," Adams said. "I think just seeing live pitching again and getting that adrenaline back was a big deal."
To make room for Adams, the Nationals designated left-hander Tim Collins for assignment, a decision manager Dave Martinez called tough, but it came down to a numbers game. Collins had posted a 2.77 ERA in 17 games from the bullpen, but the team had been carrying eight relievers for weeks, leaving their bench short.
Having an extra bench player should give Martinez more flexibility to be aggressive using pinch-hitters.
"We can do different things now, early in the game, possibly pinch-hit," Martinez said. "But it's nice to have that extra guy. It's also nice to have that extra bullpen guy, too. But we've got seven pretty good guys down there, so they understand there's seven of them, so they have to pitch."