Phillies set up man Mike Adams looks to contribute this season, saying he is healthy enough to pitch in 2014. Credit: Getty Images
Mike Adams didn’t think he needed surgery last May when the expensive set-up man struggled. He thought it was mechanics. Adams made an adjustment after watching former Texas Rangers teammate Yu Darvish pitch.
“But that was just false hope,” Adams said.
The lean, lanky reliever had shoulder surgery in June, which ended his disappointing initial season with the Phillies. It was the ninth time during his primarily enviable career that Adams went under the knife.
Surgery on a pitcher’s shoulder is serious business. “There are no guarantees when it comes to the shoulder,” Adams said.
The towering hurler was worried initially since he felt considerable pain after the procedure. “I wondered if my career was over,” Adams said.
However, his shoulder has improved. The pain dissipated, which is fortunate for Adams and the Phillies. The one-time dominant reliever feels good and believes he can be extremely tough on hitters once again.
“I’m feeling good at this point,” Adams said.
If Adams can approximate his form with the Rangers, that would be a huge boost to a beleagured Phillies bullpen, which has been a disaster for two seasons. The pen was so bad in 2012 it prompted Ruben Amaro to take the calculated risk of signing Adams, a veteran with many miles on the odometer after he had thoracic outlet syndrome. The Phillies medical staff signed off on Adams, who was exceptional in 2010 and 2011. He posted a 1.60 ERA during those seasons.
“I was on top of my game then,” Adams said. “The only thing that stopped me from pitching that way was injuries.”
Adams is confident he’ll return to form. If that’s so, the bullpen, the most volatile part of a ballclub, could turn from bad to good. “I think we have a good nucleus there,” Adams said.
If Adams is solid in 2013, which is the final season of his $12 million deal, and Papelbon is decent and Jake Diekman realizes his vast potential, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels won’t have many qualms handing over the lead to the bullpen.
However, don’t expect Adams to rush back. “I would like to be back by opening day,” Adams said. “It’s possible but I don’t want to be out there opening day and go back on the DL come July or August. My goal is to make sure I finish the season and pitch in the postseason.
Much needs to go right for Adams and the rest of the aging Phillies core in order to once again play meaningful baseball in October.
“We need guys to stay healthy,” Adams said. “We didn’t have that last season. You look at the injuries to Ryan Howard, Ben Revere and well, the list goes on and on. If this team can be healthy, it’ll be really interesting.”
Much has been made of Adams years with Texas but his four season run with the San Diego Padres (2008-2011) was truly spectacular. Adams had a 1.66 ERA with an exceptional WHIP of 0.903 during that period.
“I remember how tough Adams was when he was with San Diego,” Jimmy Rollins said. “That’s why I was so glad we signed him.”
Recently retired former Ranger and Phillie Michael Young said to wait and see what Adams delivers when he’s healthy. “I guarantee you’ll love him when he’s right,” Young said. “He’s a great pitcher and a great competitor. You love to play behind a guy like him.”