KANSAS CITY -- As right-hander Jason Adam was shown his locker in the vast Royals clubhouse on Friday afternoon, one by one his former teammates from the Minor Leagues came by to hug and greet him.First there was Whit Merrifield. Then Tim Hill. Then Cheslor Cuthbert. Then Kevin McCarthy. They
KANSAS CITY -- As right-hander Jason Adam was shown his locker in the vast Royals clubhouse on Friday afternoon, one by one his former teammates from the Minor Leagues came by to hug and greet him.
First there was Whit Merrifield. Then Tim Hill. Then Cheslor Cuthbert. Then Kevin McCarthy. They just kept coming.
"He's just a great, great guy that you want to root for," Merrifield said.
Adam's contract was selected by the Royals from Triple-A Omaha and righty reliever Scott Barlow was optioned prior to Friday night's 4-2 win over the Tigers. As Adam arrived in the clubhouse, he couldn't stop from smiling, knowing full well the journey to get there was so remarkable.
"This is special and pretty indescribable," Adam said. "It's something I dreamed about since 2010 and even before that. Tough to put into words."
Adam, 26, had been a fifth-round pick by the Royals in the 2010 MLB Draft out of Blue Valley Northwest High School in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kan. He was a promising prospect with a big fastball and a plus curveball, and he was rising through the system quickly.
But late in the 2014 season, with the Royals on their verge of their first playoff appearance in 29 years and in need of a veteran bat, they dealt Adam to the Twins for Josh Willingham.
Willingham will be remembered in Royals lore for a pinch-hit single that started the game-tying rally in the ninth inning of the American League Wild Card Game that season. At least Adam now can feel he contributed in a small way to that 2014 playoff run.
"I was not thrilled about [the trade]," Adam said, smiling. "I was excited about the opportunity with the Twins. But being from Kansas City ... yet seeing them have success, it gave me peace to know I had something to do with it."
Adam never really got a chance to show the Twins what he could do. After the season, he felt some discomfort in his right elbow and it was determined he had a stress fracture in the area. He subsequently had surgery -- two screws were inserted to stabilize the elbow -- and was told he'd be ready to throw by the spring of 2015.
But Adam found that he couldn't even straighten his arm that spring. A follow-up surgery was ordered to remove excess tissue in the elbow and triceps tendon. And then another surgery was ordered. And then another.
Surgery, and rehab, and surgery became a way of life. Adam wound up missing all of 2015 and '16.
"I never lost faith," Adam said. "I mean, there were times you're tested, like surgery No. 4, you start to think this might be pretty unrealistic. But my wife kept pushing me on the right track, just keeping me faithful through the journey."
Adam's elbow finally returned to a normal size and he finally got healthy enough to pitch last August for the Twins' Double-A affiliate in San Antonio. He pitched two scoreless innings, but he was released the next day.
The Royals called almost immediately, and Adam jumped at the opportunity get back into the organization.
After a strong Spring Training, Adam posted a 1.59 ERA in six games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He was quickly promoted to Omaha, and his 97-mph fastball and sharp curve dominated there, too -- a 0.00 ERA through four games.
The call came from the Royals on Friday that he was being brought to the Majors. Adam got off his phone and raced to the hotel room in Omaha where he and his wife, Kelsey, who is expecting their first child in June, were staying.
"I just told her, 'We can't be going to Buy Buy Baby. We're going to Kansas City,'" Adam said.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.