CHICAGO -- Power-hitting first baseman Matt Adams returned to the Cardinals' bench on Tuesday after a three-game rehab stint with Double-A Springfield (Mo.).
Adams stayed the minimum 15 days on the disabled list while recovering from a right oblique strain suffered while taking pregame swings on April 22. In order to clear space for Adams on the 25-man roster, the Cardinals optioned Jermaine Curtis to Triple-A.
"It's definitely good to have him back," manager Mike Matheny said. "I believe we addressed [the injury] before it got very bad, and he was able to keep in the rhythm of his good swing when he left. It's something to build on going forward, and we're excited to have him back."
Inclement weather condensed Adams' rehab assignment to three games, though he was still able to tally 12 at-bats. Rain limited Adams to the indoor batting cages on Thursday and Friday before he played three straight days beginning on Saturday. He finished with three hits and two RBIs.
"The timing is still coming around, but it got better each day," Adams said. "I'm feeling more comfortable at the plate, and I'm pain-free. That's good."
Adams was hitting .542 for the Cardinals with three homers and eight RBIs at the time of the setback, which was initially not expected to force him to the DL. The Cardinals decided, however, to change course and address the injury conservatively, an approach that Adams said helped give him peace of mind that his oblique was fully healed by the time he resumed game play over the weekend.
"Coming here and going back into my role on the bench, I know I'm going to be called upon in [big] situations, and you don't want to have anything in the back of your mind when you're back here swinging," Adams said. "You want to go out there and not think about anything at the plate and just know that things are feeling good and there is no pain in there."
Adams slots back into a bench role, though Matheny will again be deliberate in finding opportunities to give the first baseman periodic starts. How regular those starts will be was not something Matheny explicitly stated, as there's not seemingly much of a need to fix an offense that is not currently broken. The Cardinals enter this two-game series in Chicago having scored 29 runs in a four-game sweep of the Brewers.
"[Adams] is the kind of guy who can be in a reserve role, but I think he's a little more valuable than that, and we have to keep him sharp if we're going to use him in that capacity," Matheny said.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.