Recuperating Adams set for eighth-inning duty
Veteran reliever had hernia surgery during the offseason
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitchers aren't supposed to report for four more days, but a number of them are already here working out at the Surprise complex. Right-handed reliever Mike Adams, who had surgery to repair a hernia on Jan. 3, is among those who are throwing.
Adams is not restricted from anything. He is probably "1-2 weeks" behind other pitchers, but he has been throwing long toss, has done some light throwing off a mound and expects to throw a full bullpen session either Tuesday or Wednesday.
"I'm not limited at all," Adams said. "I just haven't been throwing as much as these other guys."
He spoke while standing outside the Rangers' clubhouse on Saturday afternoon. Almost all others who worked out on Saturday had gone for the day. Adams was one of the last to leave, but only after recounting how much the hernia bothered him -- both during the season and after the World Series.
"I don't know how it began, but it was something that was going on for a while," said Adams, who was acquired from the Padres on July 30. "I might have had it during the season. I might have had it before [the trade]."
Adams thought it was back pain. He was constantly being worked on by a chiropractor during the season. Every few days, his back would get out of whack and one leg would be slightly longer than the other. It is possible it might have affected his pitching.
"I think I did all right," Adams said. "I'm not going to say it affected my pitching. I felt it occasionally, but nothing that would keep me out of the game."
Adams went home after the World Series, and the pain persisted. He had good days and bad days, but there were nights when he couldn't sleep because it was so bad. He spent his time trying to strengthen his core, because he still thought it was a back problem. Finally, Adams went to see a doctor in late December, and found out he had a hernia.
"I told the doctor my symptoms, and right away he said I probably had a hernia," Adams said.
Adams pitched in 27 games for the Rangers and was 2-3 with a 2.10 ERA and one save, after going 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in 48 games for the Padres. He was 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 games in the playoffs, although the 11 hits -- including two home runs -- and six walks he allowed in 8 1/3 innings suggested Adams was not sharp at the end.
As for his entire Rangers experience, Adams said, "It was fun. I had a blast. It was an experience that I will never forget. But at the same time, I want more."
Adams said he wasn't disappointed with the way he pitched. He just wasn't satisfied with it, and admitted that he was not entirely comfortable with the way he was used -- although it didn't seem markedly different from how he was utilized in San Diego.
"I think I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, and it affected my outings," Adams said. "I think the way I was used affected me. In the past, I've never been the situational type. The past three or four years, when the eighth inning came around -- whether it was left or right -- no matter what the situation was, I was the guy."
That was still the way it was for the Rangers, for the most part. The Rangers acquired Adams to be their eighth-inning setup reliever, and he was used almost exclusively in that role. Rangers manager Ron Washington rarely deviated from the plan.
Adams was used exclusively for one complete inning -- the eighth -- in 21 of his 27 appearances. In the other six, he was used three times in the ninth and once in extra innings. There were two instances where Washington brought him in with one out in the eighth after the preceding pitchers -- Colby Lewis and Mike Gonzalez -- had retired the first hitter.
But, perhaps, it was the "unnecessary pressure" that Adams was putting on himself during a pennant race that made him feel uncomfortable, in what otherwise was the same basic role he had in San Diego.
"You're still worried what they are thinking ... if they don't think you can do the job," Adams said. "Every time I go out there, I'm looking over my right shoulder ... if I don't get three outs, I feel I've disappointed the staff. Instead of going out there and not worrying about anything, I was looking over my shoulder."
Washington used Adams the same way during postseason. The notable exception was Game 6 of the World Series, when the Rangers led, 7-4, going into the bottom of the eighth. Derek Holland had retired four straight hitters in relief, so he started the inning. But he gave up a one-out home run to Allen Craig and a two-out single to Yadier Molina before Adams came in to pitch.
"When it's my turn to pitch, I want the ball," Adams said. "The more confidence they show in me, the more confidence I have in myself."
The Rangers' plan is still the same, and so is their level of confidence. Adams enters Spring Training as the eighth-inning setup reliever behind Joe Nathan, who was signed in the offseason to be the closer. Neftali Feliz is moving into the rotation, while Mark Lowe, Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara will join Adams to give the Rangers four quality right-handed setup relievers. But Adams figures to be the eighth-inning guy.
Adams will also be a free agent after the season, and admitted that could be a challenge.
"That's going to be the hard part of the season, not thinking about that," Adams said. "Everybody wants to do well when it is their free-agent year. That, to me, is the biggest hurdle. But you have to separate that, and go out and perform. I would have liked to have gotten something done during this offseason, where I don't have to think about that, but I understand they've got more important guys to think about.
"As long as I do my job, I'll be all right. If I take care of business and do my job the way I have the past few years, I'll be all right."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.