ST. LOUIS -- Matt Adams entered Thursday second on the Cardinals with a .307 batting average yet still lacking production in two key areas. He's struggling against lefties, and perhaps most concerning for a player who has batted cleanup in 27 of the team's 41 games, he's not driving in runs.
The latter is tied to Adams' decrease in power, something that he has sacrificed with his willingness to hit outside pitches to the opposite field. Clubs have been aggressive in pitching him that way, seemingly willing to take a single to left over the threat of Adams pulling a ball for an extra-base hit.
Adams has exploited the shift in this way, but he's also tallied just two home runs in 150 at-bats. He had 17 as a part-time player in 296 at-bats a year ago. Needing Adams to provide middle-of-the-order production, the Cardinals have encouraged him to lay off some of those outside pitches -- even if the pitch is a strike -- to wait for another pitch that he can hit with more authority.
"Early in the count, [I need to] try to get more of a pitch that I can drive in the gaps and do damage with," said Adams, who has 11 RBIs in 39 games. "I think it's just my being maybe too aggressive early in the count, instead of letting it come to me and getting a pitch that I know I can drive."
With outfielder Oscar Taveras seemingly knocking on the big league door, the Cardinals will need to see more run-producing hits from Adams in order to justify his stay as an everyday hitter. They'd also like improved results against lefties, who have limited Adams to five hits (two for extra bases) in 34 at-bats this season. He has stuck out in 10 of those at-bats.
Adams said a recent tweak with his stance setup helped him feel more comfortable against lefty Travis Wood on Monday. Nevertheless, he admitted that the production so far is "not as good as what I'd like to do."
"I felt comfortable in spring, and a couple nights ago against Wood I felt real comfortable," Adams said. "I made a few adjustments, and I think that's going to help me big time. Now I've lowered my front shoulder a little bit and am seeing the ball middle-away better from the lefty."
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.