The Phillies officially announced the signing of free-agent reliever Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million deal Thursday. The contract also includes a vesting option for 2015, which is a lot of money for a guy who admits last season was a physical struggle.
Adams, 34, is expected to take the role as closer Jonathan Papelbon's setup man next season. He has been one of the best eighth-inning relievers in the game since 2008, posting a 1.98 earned run average while striking out 311 batters in 295 innings.
The veteran righthander posted a 5-3 record with one save and an uncharacsterically high 3.27 earned run average in his only full season with the Texas Rangers last year. He was shut down for the final week of the season and underwent surgery in October for a condition known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
"Last year was a struggle for me," Adams said. "The TOS was something that kicked in in early April. I didn't know what was happening. I thought I was just having some shoulder discomfort issues. The majority of the season I battled not having the same stuff I had previously.
"I didn't have a good feel for the ball. There were times when I didn't know how to grip a fastball because I didn't have the feel. That's the symptoms of TOS. By the end of the year, it really caught up to me. My arm felt like it weighed five or six pounds more than it normally did. The ball felt like it weighed three pounds."
Adams surrendered three home runs in a five-batter span in his final appearance of the season against Oakland after allowing only one home run in his previous 60 games.
"My last outing, I felt like I was pitching a shot put," he said. "The toughest part was the mental part. I was trying to fix my mechanics and I was trying to fix everything. Once I knew that I had TOS, it was a huge relief after talking to (Rangers teammate) Matt Harrison and knowing that he told me I was going to feel great after (surgery). The trainer for Texas told me that once I get a few weeks into the rehab process I'm going to feel like I have a new arm."
Adams said the rehab process has gone well so far. He thought he'd be ready for the start of spring training. He admitted that he is more concerned about being ready for the April 1 opener in Atlanta. The surgical procedure involved removing a rib.
"It’s the first rib, which is below the clavicle," Adams said. "So what happens is that first rib starts squeezing the clavicle. You have a main artery and a nerve that runs through there, so when you start squeezing those, that nerve starts shooting pain through your body. I was having headaches constantly for three weeks. My trap was hurting, my pec, the middle of my back was hurt. I was having some numbness and tingling in my bicep and forearm and it was something that was pretty bad.
"Once I had the surgery to take care of it, some of the shoulder pain was gone within two days. It took a little while longer for a lot of the other symptoms to go away, but they said in time it will. They say the nerves have been so freaked out that they needed time to recover. It wasn’t until about three or four weeks ago that I really started to feel the symptoms go away."
Shortly after the winter meetings, the Phillies sent special assistant Charley Kerfeld to watch Adams throw. The righthander obviously passed the physical administered by the Phillies Thursday and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged the risk involved.
"There is no question that there is some risk involved," Amaro said. "As a group, we talked to our people about the TOS and how that might affect him short term and long term, but I think ultimately we feel comfortable enough and felt comfortable with the procedure and the follow-up information that we got. While there is some risk to it, it probably was a good risk. This is a guy who can solidify our bullpen."