ATLANTA -- David Freese's absence from Monday's lineup pushed Matt Adams up to the fifth spot in the batting order, the highest Adams has hit in his nine Major League starts.
The rookie first baseman profiles long term as a middle-of-the order hitter, and manager Mike Matheny showed no hesitancy challenging Adams on Monday, given the need and how well Adams has performed thus far. In his first eight Major League games, Adams went 10-for-29 (.345) with four doubles and a homer.
He responded on Monday, too. After striking out with the bases full in his first at-bat, Adams recorded three consecutive hits. The last two drove home a combined three runs.
"That first plate appearance was terrible," Adams said after the team's 8-2 win. "I went up there anxious and wanting to get the job done and was just chasing pitches. Then I got in there and settled down my second at-bat, and said, 'All right, this is where I need to be.' I just went on from there."
In these nine games, Adams now has five multihit games.
"The big thing for me was just realizing that it's really the same game," Adams said. "I just have to keep doing what I was doing down in Triple-A, just make sure that I get the pitches out over the middle of the plate instead of chasing the ones in the dirt."
"He's a legitimate hitter," Matheny said. "But these are legitimate pitchers that are going to keep paying attention to find where they can find holes. If he stays with what he can do and doesn't get suckered into going to where they're trying to get him to go, I think he's going to do well."
Adams collected his first big league homer on Sunday and confirmed a day later that he does have the ball in his possession. A team employee negotiated for it on his behalf. In exchange for that ball, the fan who retrieved it from the stands was given an Adams' autographed one.
The ball is currently in safe keeping in St. Louis, though Adams said it will eventually end up at his parents' home in Pennsylvania. The ball from his first Major League hit is already there.