Ryan Zimmerman returned from a three-game absence for stiffness in his side on Tuesday, so Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez put Matt Adams in left field, keeping the left-handed hitting slugger’s bat in the lineup after he hit two home runs in Monday’s series opener in San Diego.
Adams’ 2 for 4, 5 RBI night against the Padres on Monday left him 10 for 25 (.400/.516/1.240) with seven home runs, six walks, and three Ks in his last seven games, and he was up to 22 for 67 (.328/.430/.821) in 18 starts this season, in which he’d hit all 10 of his home runs so far in 2018.
Martinez went with Adams in spite of his struggles against left-handed pitching (2 for 9 after the home run Monday night, and .207/.240/.362 vs LHPs in his career), telling reporters he liked the matchup against Padres’ starter Clayton Richard, who relies heavily on his fastball (throwing it for 55% of his pitches).
Adams told reporters he’s gotten more comfortable against left-handed pitchers since he opened up his stance at the urging of hitting coach Kevin Long.
“Definitely feel more comfortable,” Adams said.
“Definitely more confident this year just from working with Kevin in Spring Training, opening up a little bit, and that was pretty much the main focus in Spring Training, was to work on hitting lefties and getting comfortable with it, and it’s seeing the ball come out of the hand a little bit better from being open a little bit, it’s done me wonders, for sure.”
Adams added that he was more comfortable overall at the plate since he’s been getting at bats consistently with all the injuries the Nationals are dealing with in the first month-plus.
“I think everyday at bats [are] good for anybody,” he explained.
“I think you can be able to build the confidence and your timing is going to be where it needs to be, and like I’ve said, I don’t care what my role is, I’m happy to be a part of this team and right now I’m playing every day, so we’re going to ride it out.”
Martinez said he was also getting more comfortable with using Adams in left field when it’s necessary, to keep his bat in the lineup, though that wasn’t necessarily a surprise to him.
“It’s been what I expected, because he worked so hard at it in Spring Training,” Martinez said.
“The key with him was his first step, and it’s noticeable, even when he’s playing first base, that his feet are actually working, and he’s loving it. He worked every day on it.
“So he’s doing well, and the hitting portion of it, we knew he could hit. He’s always hit, so now he’s getting an opportunity to play, he’s having fun, and he’s helping us win some big games.”
In Adams’ first start of the season against a left-hander, he went 1 for 3 against Richard, with an opposite field RBI double in the top of the fifth, when he hit a 1-2 slider to left-center field to drive in the only run the Nationals ended up needing in a 4-0 win over the Padres.
Updated 2018 Stats vs LHPs: 3 for 12 (.250/.357/.583) one double, one home run.
Will Martinez have him back in the lineup against another left-hander tonight, or will he give the big guy a rest after the run he’s been on over the last few weeks?