JUPITER, Fl. (KMOV.com) -- Matt Adams broke out of his spring slump Thursday, belting a laser beam home run to left center off of Bartolo Colon.
The lefty, who spent his offseason dropping considerable weight, had finally found a harmony in his swing, which also underwent some changes.
“Today, I felt like myself in the box. I felt like I was more calm and definitely confident in there. Those are two good things that I’m taking away from today – that I was calmer and seeing the ball better and felt more comfortable in the box,” Adams said.
In addition to remaking his body this winter, the 28-year-old altered his swing. He changed the position of his hands in his load and tried to leverage parts of his frame where he was building muscle.
“The core, the glutes, the lower part of the body. My swing wasn’t that bad before. I had to hone in on a couple things,” he said.
But his new swing, combined with his new body, had him feeling out of sync. His hands didn’t feel like they were in the right position and in his early spring at bats he looked far behind the pitches he was trying to attack. After a handful of called third strikes and his barrel arriving too late to the zone, he sought out hitting coach John Mabry to find harmony.
“The whole tipping thing, the timing thing, was not working, so I went back to the way I had been in the past. I kept my hands in one position and found a little rhythm, loaded it up,” he said.
After extensive work in the batting cage this week, Adams found a hybrid approach. He was still able to leverage his strengthened core, to add power as he twisted through his swing, but return to the pre-swing bat positioning he trusted in earlier seasons.
The result was an explosive, cathartic home run to the opposite field to break his o-fer.
“He seemed to have that target on him as the one guy who didn’t look locked in yet. Because everybody else had taken some good at bats,” manager Mike Matheny said, noting the significance of the ball roaring out to left. “I think that’s something he got away from. That’s something that I remember even watching him in the minor leagues, this guy had pop all over the place. You saw that today. That was a lined shot he got out of here.”
Adams has always had power. Matheny had described it as an ability to loft the ball, the type of power that allows for home runs even when Adams doesn’t get all a pitch.
“He has the ability to get under a ball and mishit it and it’s still going to carry. You just don’t see that from a lot of guys,” Matheny said.
Thursday’s homer was less of a moonshot. Rather than his typical soaring home run, Adams kept his swing through Colon’s pitch all the way, creating a straight line exit rather than an arc.
“That ball, in particular, I felt like I held the barrel down to the ball and I stayed through it. The ball came off straight, didn’t have any slice or topspin on it. That’s a good indicator that I stayed through the ball. That’s what I’m taking away from that swing,” Adams said. “Bartolo is tough. His ball moves a lot. If I can time that ball up as it’s moving all sorts of different directions then I know that my timing is on.”
It’s an intriguing swing for the Cardinals, who watched Adams belt 16 homers with an average distance that ranked him among the top power hitters with that many bombs. With Matt Carpenter still scheduled to leave the team on March 6 for the World Baseball Classic, Big City will have ample opportunity to show off his work. He’ll likely be unable to unseat the Cardinal’s best hitter at first base, but his value as a bench weapon is growing with each successful swing.