JUPITER, Fla. -- In a lineup otherwise filled with experienced Major League players, Matt Adams found himself handed the chance to make an early impression. Manager Mike Matheny made Adams the starting first baseman and six-hole hitter in Monday's Grapefruit League opener.
"I was completely surprised," Adams said of drawing the starting assignment. "It's a great opportunity, and I'm just excited to get out there and play a real game."
Adams played six innings in the team's 4-3 loss to the Marlins and finished 1-for-3 with a single and strikeout. MLB.com's ninth-ranked Cardinals prospect and the organization's most recent Minor League Player of the Year, Adams is participating in his first big league Spring Training.
He seems a long shot to make the Cardinals' Opening Day roster out of camp, though that is very much Adams' intention. He has taken advantage of time spent with current first baseman Lance Berkman and former first basemen John Mabry and Mark McGwire during workouts to get feedback, particularly on the defensive end.
"Each year in Spring Training I have been getting better and better at first," Adams said. "I just want to continue that this spring, and hopefully the offense takes care of itself. I'm going to continue to do early work in the cage and still do my work in batting practice."
Most of the intrigue surrounding Adams is tied to his bat -- and for good reason. After combining to hit .326 with 90 extra-base hits in his first 184 Minor League games, Adams thrived in Double-A Springfield last year. He finished 2011 with a .300 average, 23 doubles, 32 homers and 101 RBIs in 115 games.
If Adams does not crack the Cardinals' roster, he lines up to be the starting first baseman in Triple-A Memphis. But he'll get a long look before that decision is made.
"He's impressed a lot of people," Matheny said. "His makeup, the way he's gone about things, the work he's put in, it's just been real impressive. The talent is there; I don't think anybody has doubted that. I think it's going to be a great test for him to get out and be a part of the first game here."