KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Matt Adams put in the work over the offseason, setting up a pitching machine to throw lefty sliders over and over and over so that he could learn to better recognize them. That work has since produced positive results, which is helping to hush concerns about Adams' ability to hit against left-handers.
Adams understands that establishing himself as an everyday first baseman in the Majors will require that he puts up decent numbers against left-handed pitching. On Saturday, he showed a flash of that potential.
Adams faced Houston left-hander Brett Oberholtzer three times in the Cardinals' 5-2 win. In the first inning, he lined an opposite-field, two-run double off the wall. Two innings later, he crushed his team-best third home run to right. Though he flied out to left-center in his final at-bat, he made solid contact on that pitch from Oberholtzer as well.
"I'm seeing [lefties] well this spring," Adams said. "I've just been not bailing out, keeping that front side in there as long as possible. I'm picking the ball up and trying to see it as long as I can and make sure I put a good swing on it."
Adams went 0-for-2 against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez on Friday but said he "knew my swing was where I needed it to be" after he flied out in the second of those two at-bats.
"Then I did the same thing today, and it carried over [the left fielder's] head," Adams added. "My swing is feeling good right now, and I'm feeling good with my approach."
Manager Mike Matheny has been intentional, when possible, in getting Adams into the lineup on days in which the Cardinals are facing a left-handed starter. The organization watched Adams actually thrive against left-handed pitching in the Minors -- he hit southpaws at a .313 clip in parts of four Minor League seasons -- but the Cardinals have not previously given him sustained big league opportunities against lefties.
That will change this season.
"As he was walking off the field today I said, 'I think you've proven that you can hit lefties OK,'" Matheny said. "I knew it was something he was working on, and there was really only one way to find out if what you have been working on is actually going to pan out in game situations. … He's got a nice approach right now and we're trying to keep him that way."
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.