It was business as usual, save for the inning. Mike Adams made his first competitive performance in a Phillies uniform, pitching a scoreless fourth inning against the Braves on Thursday afternoon. The veteran set-up man retired three of the four batters he faced, striking out Todd Cunningham and allowing a hit to Evan Gattis.
Adams is familiar with the Phillies late-game struggles last season, when they lost 12 games in which they had a lead in the eighth.
"Ya'll have told me plenty about them," Adams said to reporters. "It's well documented. I know what happened last year with the eighth inning. I'm looking forward to it. This is something that I love to do. I love coming in there in my role, the eighth inning, being considered one of the better set-up guys in the game. I like that. I'd rather be one of the best set-up men in the game than the No. 15 closer in the game."
Adams had been held back from Grapefruit League action after undergoing offseason surgery to correct a condition called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which affected the circulation in his pitching arm. The surgery is not something that usually diminishes a pitcher's ability post-op.
"I spoke with a couple of guys who had the surgery before I had my surgery, and they told me once I had mine done I would feel 10 times better," Adams said. "I was just more excited, more ready to have the surgery and start the rehab process and get back to throwing again so I could feel that difference."
Pitching coach Rich Dubee had planned on waiting until the first week of March to turn Adams loose, so you can consider the set-up man ahead of schedule.
"After my last bullpen session he said something about maybe throwing one of those first few days of March and I told him, hey, if you want to go the 28th, then we can get it started, get it going already…he's known that I felt fine, it was just more of taking it easy, really," Adams said. "There was nothing medically or any reason like that why we were holding out."