In 2010, Adams posted a 1.76 ERA for the San Diego Padres, lowering that mark to 1.47 in 75 relief appearances for San Diego and the Texas Rangers the next season. Since then, he’s gone under the knife for shoulder, knee and hernia surgeries, as well as an operation to remove a rib and treat a nerve problem. After undergoing shoulder surgery to end his 2013 season, Adams pitched in just 22 games in 2014, working 18.2 innings with a 2.89 ERA. In fact, Adams has thrown more than 26 innings just once in the past four seasons.
“The biggest question has always been staying healthy,” said Adams on Sunday, in his first interview since being signed to a one-year minor league deal by the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Hopefully, with a change of scenery and working with a new staff, hopefully they give me a good chance of doing that, of staying healthy.”
The scenery isn’t the only thing that’s changed for the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder out of Texas A&M. Looking back on his stint in Philadelphia, Adams sees where he – and his body – went wrong.
“It was a number of things,” he said. “I think it was bad mechanics, trying to push through stuff when I probably shouldn’t have been, maybe routines. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was going on, or how it happened.”
Over the holidays, Adams returned home to Texas and spent time with his younger brother, Jason – a personal trainer. While working a youth camp with his brother, Adams had a bit of an epiphany.
“It actually got started, because we went down there and did a little camp together for some of the kids, and I saw the stuff that he was doing, and that’s what really opened my eyes a lot to ask him: ‘Hey, this might work for me, and it can’t hurt.’ The things I was doing on my own weren’t working,” Adams said.
Jason – who runs a training facility and helps coach young pitchers – worked with his older brother to iron out some mechanical flaws.
“He does his own stuff down in south Texas, where he has a training facility that he runs, and he works with kids. He goes to Boston and L.A., he works with these so-called pitching gurus, and I just picked his brain a little bit. That’s what he does. I don’t want to say that I had no choice, but I had no choice. It wasn’t going to hurt to ask,” Adams said. “He goes to a bunch of these conferences, and he works with a lot of different pitching gurus, and when I was down for the holidays, for Christmas, I told him, I said, ‘Hey, I need your help a little bit. I need to try to clean some stuff up,’ so we worked for the time that I was down there, for the two weeks that I was down, and I took that back up when I went home, and I transferred it, put my own little twist a little bit on it, also, and hopefully, it works.”
By his own admission, Adams doesn’t throw 95 anymore, but he believes that he’s not only the same pitcher he once was in San Diego, but that he can stay healthy for an entire season.
“As of right now, good. It’s very good right now,” he said of his shoulder. “It’s a long process. It’s a long season, and I think the biggest thing is, I’ve got to be smart about how I go about it, try not to push through a lot of small things that I might have done in the past. Sometimes, when things are going well, and you’re pitching good, you want to continue going out there, even when you know you maybe shouldn’t be out there. Hopefully, I can take what I learned in the past and carry that over and the work I do in the training room with those guys, and keep it going for six months, seven months.”
Manager Don Mattingly raved about Adams’s upside in his morning press briefing, saying not only that Adams isn’t “broken down,” but that he has a “high upside,” and his career 2.41 ERA in 407.1 major league innings would tend to agree. Adams, though, said that he won’t be throwing as many pitches as he once did.
“I hope I can minimize the pitches I throw out there, every time. It’s not about going out there and throwing 20 to 30 pitches. I want to get out there, throw 10, 12 pitches, get out of the inning,” Adams said. “I don’t know what the situation’s going to be. If it’s a multiple inning situation, I know it’s not going to be a very often-type thing. We’ll see how it goes. It’s so hard to speculate and see what’s going to happen. Right now, my number one goal is to stay healthy in camp, make the ballclub and then go from there.”