Matt Adams showed versatility in his offensive game Monday with a bunt single against the shift in the second inning and a bases-empty home run in the sixth.
The bunt single was his first of the season, and he figures to have many more opportunities to contribute in such a way as St. Louis Cardinals opponents will continue to shift against him.
“That was a situation I wasn’t sure if he would (bunt),” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, referencing the two-out, nobody-on situation. “It’s an opportunity to kind of keep an inning going. As he continues to do that and prove that he can, (teams) are going to have to continue to think about how they defend him, and that might open up some (other) spots.”
Adams, a left-handed hitter who has played in all but one of the Cardinals’ 27 games, is batting .259 (14-for-54) with two doubles, three homers and seven RBIs. He was 0-for-4 on Tuesday in the Cardinals’ 1-0 loss to Philadelphia.
“It felt good to get that down,” Adams said of his bunt to the left of the mound. “I worked hard in spring training on it and got a couple down there. It just felt good.”
I’m feeling more comfortable with it this year, for sure. If it’s that open, I’m going to try it. I’m not saying it’s always going to work, but I feel comfortable with it this year.
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams on his attitude this season toward bunting
Adams measured the situation before bunting. The Phillies shifted three infielders to the right of second base, leaving third baseman Maikel Franco a few steps from straightaway shortstop.
“He started in and I was paying attention to him,” Adams said. “He looked in the dugout and the coaches told him to back up. I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to try it.’ (Jeremy Hellickson) gave me a pitch I was able to do it with.
“I’m feeling more comfortable with it this year, for sure. If it’s that open, I’m going to try it. I’m not saying it’s always going to work, but I feel comfortable with it this year.”
Adams’ home run carried out of the park to left-center, an indication of how comfortable he has become at the plate in recent days.
“I think I’m in a good spot,” Adams said. “I feel like I’m seeing the ball good and I’m letting the ball get to where I need to be able to drive it instead of just flick it over there to left field. Everything’s falling in the right spot now. It’s just been sticking with my routine. Every at-bat started to feel better and better. I’ve just got to come ready.
“Whether I’m in there or whether I’m coming off the bench pinch-hitting, I’ve always got to be ready for when my name is called.”
I think I’m in a good spot. I feel like I’m seeing the ball good and I’m letting the ball get to where I need to be able to drive it instead of just flick it over there to left field. Everything’s falling in the right spot now.
Matt Adams of the Cardinals
Adams is in a first-base timeshare with Brandon Moss, another left-handed hitter whose ability to play the corner outfield spots gives Matheny ample opportunity to employ Adams when he’s swinging the bat with authority.
Mixing in a bunt now and then, as Matheny pointed out, will keep defenses honest when Adams is batting.
“Matt’s had some positive reinforcement that makes sense,” Matheny said. “Free hits. Wow. I would have loved to have had one of those.”
Matheny was a .239 career hitter over 3,877 at-bats.
Matheny said he won’t be surprised any time the Cardinals bang out 14 hits and score 10 times as they did Monday in their win 10-3 win over Philadelphia. They also drilled five home runs.
“It’s not like it’s something we haven’t seen all year,” Matheny said. “A year ago, you could probably ask that question and have a valid point. But we’ve had nights like that, with multiple home runs and guys just continuing to bring offense. I anticipate that and expect for our guys to keep putting together the big at-bats. Those turn into big run production.”
Other home runs came from Adams, pitcher Adam Wainwright, center fielder Randal Grichuk, second baseman Kolten Wong and rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz.
One things Cardinals fans have learned, however, is that the offense can be quiet, too. They have scored three runs or less nine times. They also are 2-9 against teams over .500.
Matheny learned after the game Monday that Wainwright’s fourth-inning three-run homer, which landed in the second deck in left field, had an exit velocity of more than 105 mph. Wainwright’s double to left-center in the third had an exit velocity of 106 mph.
“That ball was smoked,” Matheny said. “When the left fielder (David Lough) takes a hard angle and the ball’s already past him, you know that ball’s got some giddy-up on it.”
Grichuk gets going
Grichuk snapped an 0-for-20 slump Monday with a pinch-hit single in the sixth inning, then clobbered his seventh-inning home run. Grichuk was 0-for-3 on Tuesday.
“(Grichuk) doesn’t have to try to hit homers. He hits the ball so hard,” Matheny said. “He took off out of the box like that thing was going to be a double and that thing went 20 rows deep.
“It’s amazing how the ball jumps off his bat. He just needs to continue to try and find the barrel. He can mishit some balls and they’re going to get out of, not just this park, but any park. He’s got a real nice approach with what he’s working on in BP and in his extra work, and it’s starting to show.”
Pham close (still)
Outfielder Tommy Pham, disabled by a strained left oblique suffered in the first game of the season April 3 in Pittsburgh, still is expected to begin a minor-league rehab this week, possibly as early as Wednesday.
Pham, injured in the first game of the season, has been taking batting practice.
“I think he’s close. Hopefully, still this week,” Matheny said. “Watching him move, he’s out there flying all over the place. He looks good.”