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Berkman's boo boo blesses Birds in disguise

While I would prefer to see Lance Berkman playing first base for the Cardinals these days, his injury may be something of a blessing in disguise.

Ready or not, the team’s front office decision makers had to give slugging prospect Matt Adams a shot at the major leagues. And he’s doing a pretty good job with the opportunity he wouldn’t have received had Berkman’s knee not given out on him.

It’s exciting watching a promising young player hit the major league scene. Adams certainly hasn’t disappointed.

Adams entered Tuesday’s action hitting .382 with a homer, five doubles and five runs batted in through 36 plate appearances.

The lefty hitter hung in very well against Phillies southpaw Cliff Lee, collecting two hits before adding a third later in the game against a reliever. He’s batting .500 with two outs and runners in scoring position and Adams doesn’t seem to get flustered by high-pressure situations.

I was especially impressed after he struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning Monday that he not only rebounded to have a good game with a clutch, two-out, two-run hit that put St. Louis out of Atlanta’s reach late in the game. In a post-game interview he said that he allowed himself to get over-aggressive in his plate appearance and that he worked hard after that at bat to reign himself in and bear down.

I really appreciate a player who not only understands the game — but who is always trying to get better and learn more. I was never a Colby Rasmus fan because he refused to adapt, insisting that he was going to be successful the way he liked to do things.

Pitchers will pick apart hitters who refuse to develop one part or their game or another apart. But Adams seems willing to hit the ball where it is pitched. And he understands that the situation is important. Sometimes it’s OK to swing for the fences. But others, you have to give in to where the ball is pitched and be willing to hit it to the opposite field.

Adams might not turn out to be the next Albert Pujols. But he has shown already that he has the potential to be a really solid hitter in the middle of the St. Louis batting order for years to come. 

Most people believe that there was little chance the Birds would bring Berkman back for a third year in 2012. And I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of throwing Adams into the pool with no major league experience and no fallback plan.

Now, at least, the Cardinals will have a nice example of what Adams is capable of doing before they have to make a final decision on the 2013 roster. And it’s an added benefit that the club is able to inject new life into the major league roster without a complete overhaul project.

Adams will almost certainly face some bumps in the road. But he seems to have all the tools — including a good head on his shoulders — to become a success in the big leagues for years to come.

I wonder if the Cardinals have been resistant to make a move toward veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt despite the lingering health problems of Chris Carpenter because they’re hoping to give us a look soon at the organization’s top pitching star, Shelby Miller.

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