Davey Martinez talked after the official announcement on first baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s return to the Injured List (with plantar fasciitis again), about the potential for regular at bats to help Matt Adams get going at the plate. Adams, 30, was 6 for 38 (.158/.220/.395) over 15 games (and eight starts), with three doubles, three walks, and 15 Ks in 41 plate appearances between the time Zimmerman returned from his first IL stint of the season on June 28th and when he was injured again.
“For me, and we talked about this before,” Martinez explained, after Adams went 2 for 5 with two RBIs in the first start after Zimmerman’s injury, “when you come off the bench, you play once or twice a week, it’s tough. You get your pinch hits, but now he’ll get consistent at bats, and I think you’ll start seeing the average go up a little bit, because he’s playing every day, and he’s seeing pitches every day consistently.
“But he’s been hitting lefties really well all year this year and that’s just working hard with [Hitting Coach Kevin Long] and just staying on the ball and using the whole field.”
Adams put together another two-hit game in the day half of Wednesday’s doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies in Nationals Park, doubling and scoring one of Washington’s three runs in a 3-2 win, and walking twice in his four PAs.
Adams also impressed at first base. No, really.
In the top of the seventh, with the score tied at 2-2 and Rockies’ outfielder Charlie Blackmon at second base with two out, David Dahl hit a grounder to third that Anthony Rendon fielded coming in, and he made a strong throw to first that beat the runner, but it was close.
Adams, with no hesitation, came off the first base bag after making the catch, and he threw home to Nats’ catcher Kurt Suzuki, beating Blackmon to the plate just in case there was any question about the out at first base.
“I knew it was going to be bang-bang, just because Dahl can run a little bit,” Adams said in a post-game chat with reporters, who asked about the play, “... and I think if I look back to see what his call is, then if he is safe then Charlie was going to be safe at home.
“So I wanted to make sure there was no doubt at home, so just saw Charlie rounding third and wanted to get the ball to Zuk.”
“We practice that,” his manager said. “We’ve done it all Spring Training and every now and then we take infield and we make sure that they’re aware when a guy is on second he might go home, so heads up play by Matty though to remember and he came right away and fired it.”
And the fact that he reached base in all four plate appearances, with the double to center, two walks between his hits, and a single to center field?
“When he’s going good, he actually stays in the middle of the field,” Martinez said, “and he’s been doing that, and like I said, coming off the bench is hard, and usually when he comes off the bench he’s geared up to hit one pitch and try to hit it as hard as he can. Now he’s working at bats, and he’s hitting the ball, he’s staying up the middle of the field. Two of the hits today were pretty much off the wall, which I thought he got that one and then his base hit.”
Adams agreed, to some extent, with his manager’s assessment that he might be able to take a more patient approach when he’s getting regular at bats.
“You could say that a little bit. I think for the most part it’s just being comfortable in the box no matter what, and not trying to do too much whether I’m coming off the bench, so that’s the big thing that I’ve honed in on lately,” he explained, “is just making sure that I stay within myself and not try to do too much, and get a good pitch to hit.”
The two-hit game left Adams with a .244/.286/.518 line, nine doubles, and 15 home runs in 73 games and 210 PAs on the season, over which he’s been worth 0.4 fWAR. How does he assess his own 2019 campaign to this point?
“You put me on the spot,” he joked with the reporter who asked. “I feel like it’s going good.
“I’ve just got to be ready because I know my role — when Zim’s healthy it’s coming off the bench whenever the team needs me, and now it’s filling in a little bit more and getting some more at bats, but I’m the type of player that I’m ready every day, I show up every day just ready to do whatever I can to help the team.”
Adams was 0 for 3 with two Ks in the finale with the Rockies on Thursday when he hit a 2-0 fastball from reliever Sam Howard out to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for his 16th home run of the season, giving the Nationals some breathing room in what was a 6-5 game before his blast. They ended up losing it in the ninth. Adams finished the day 1 for 5, with a .243/.284/.525 line on the season.