CLEARWATER, Fla. – Reliever Mike Adams admitted to being nervous, even a little worried, before he took to the bullpen mound on a drizzly morning at Phillies camp Thursday.
Adams threw for about eight minutes. It was his first time throwing off a mound since having shoulder surgery in July. During the surgery, doctors repaired three tears in Adams’ shoulder and the pitcher wondered if his career might be over.
Adams is still not out of the woods, but he passed Thursday morning’s test.
“It felt good to throw off the slope again,” he said after the bullpen session, which was monitored by pitching coach Bob McClure and bullpen coach Rod Nichols. “I threw at about 85 percent. My shoulder felt good.”
Adams admitted to some nervousness before the bullpen session because his last flat-ground throwing session Monday did not go well.
“I felt some discomfort in my shoulder,” he said. “It worried me. When you’ve been through what I’ve been through, it gets in the back of your head.
“Everything is an unknown. Every time you go out there you hope for the best, but every pitch could be your last. Right now I’m just counting my blessings to be out here."
Adams now believes the discomfort he felt Monday was just a normal result of his ramping up the intensity of his comeback. He will continue to throw bullpen sessions in the coming days and eventually graduate to throwing to hitters. He hopes to be in Grapefruit League games by mid-March and if all goes well could be ready for the regular season before the end of April.
Adams will not rush back, however.
“It’s a progression,” he said. “I have to make sure I pass every test. I want to get back as fast as possible, but at the same time I want to make sure I’m being smart about it. When I come back, I want to stay back and not have to go on the DL again.”
The Phillies signed Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract before the 2013 season. The hope was that he would take the adventure out of the eighth inning, which had been a major problem in 2012. But Adams pitched in just 28 games and none after June 19 because the shoulder injury. He is owed $7 million this season.
Before coming to Philadelphia, Adams was one of the best eighth-inning men in baseball and he threw power stuff.
He still hopes to be a top reliever when he returns, but acknowledges that he might not be a power guy anymore.
“Command will be very important,” he said. “I don’t have the 95 [mph] I used to have. Velocity-wise, I don’t know where I’m going to be. I don’t know if I’m going to be 84-85 or 89-90. That’s why it’s going to be important for me to keep the ball down and change speeds. I’m going to need to locate and work my changeup.”