Adams went 2-5 with a double and a stolen base. Adams legged out an infield single to third base for his first hit and then stole second. In his next at-bat, he laced a ground ball down the left field line, just inside the third base bag to drive in centerfielder Matt Angle.
"Just getting back out there with my guys, my friends, for sure, it feels good," Adams said. "I had some nerves before the game, but I settled in quickly after that first ground ball."
In addition to struggling with only being able to watch his teammates play, Adams knew the importance of missing so many games, potentially falling behind some of the players he's gotten to know over the past couple of years.
"As you move up [the system] you don't want to miss any time because each game that goes by could be an opportunity for you to do well and move up," Adams said.
Adams also looked like he did not miss a beat on defense. The first pitch of the game resulted in a grounder hit his way. Adams got to the ball, fielded it cleanly and made a perfect throw to first to get the out. His defense is what gave him trouble in 2008 in Delmarva, committing 52 errors, a South Atlantic League Record.
"You almost need something like [last year] to happen to you," Adams said. "You grow up as a person, it humbles you and it makes you work really hard. It was a lot of work in the off-season on defense."
Adams is out to prove people who say he can't play defense wrong. It is a part of his game he wants to be able to take pride in over the coming years.
"I want to improve. Everyone says I can't play defense, I did a lot of work and I think you'll see it pay off this year, definitely," Adams said.
He explained how when things started to go down hill last year it got into his head and he just wanted the season to be over. He knew that 2009 would present a "fresh slate" and allow him to get more work and show his improvements.
"I hear stuff, people saying stuff about me not playing defense, but one day, with a lot of work, I can be great on defense," Adams said. " I was a shortstop when I came out of high school and I was converted over to second and it took me a while to feel comfortable over there, but like I said before, down the line I think I can be great at second base."
However, as bad as he was in the field, he was the complete opposite at the plate. With great hand-eye coordination, it was expected that he would hit for a good average, but he showed good power for second base also. He hit 11 home runs to go with 26 doubles and had an .829 OPS. He does not expect to need much time to find his swing again.
"That's the reason they sent me down to Florida," Adams said. "The last extended spring training game was five or six days ago, so I did have another little break, but that's why they sent me down there. I don't think it will be too long before I get my timing back. I got a little more comfortable as the game went on, I don't think I'll be too long."
Not many players would force a guy who leads second baseman in OPS in a league out of a lineup, but Adams is doing that coming off of the disabled list. Bobby Stevens, the third starting second baseman the Keys have needed this year (Matt Tucker was Adams' original replacement, but he is out with a finger injury for at least a couple more weeks) and with an .812 OPS in 141 at-bats, he would be leading second basemen in the Carolina League if he had enough at-bats.
Keys' manager Richie Hebner did say that he will try to get Stevens in the lineup, saying he could play some third base also.
"Stevens has done a nice job," Hebner said. With Adams coming off the disabled, another roster move had to made, and outfield Kraig Binick was put on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Hebner really wanted Stevens to stay with the Keys, but did caution that Stevens will not get the at-bats he had.
"I honestly don't know what my role will be, but hopefully I made a good enough impression to keep myself here," Stevens said of relinquishing the starting job to Adams.
While Hebner is losing one of his more consistent bats in the lineup, he is getting another one back that he is very excited about.
"This is a good team here with Adams," Hebner said. "A lot of people have not seen Adams around here. He's a good player. These people around here are going to see a player they really have never seen. These people around here have not caught his act yet."