The moment featured intensity, ability, levity and a little humility.
But for Austin Adams, he was back on the mound firing mid-90s fastballs and biting sliders to hitters, albeit his teammates in a live batting practice drill, Wednesday morning at T-Mobile Park, and that was all that mattered.
After suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and damage to his meniscus in his left knee on Sept. 21 in Baltimore while trying to avoid a collision in the field, he eventually underwent surgery on Oct. 15. The recovery for such an injury varies from 6-10 months if not more. Adams pushed himself to be on the low end of that time frame. And 38 weeks and a day since his knee was reconstructed, he was throwing with his typical mixture of ferocity and rage.
“I had baseball taken away from me on Sept. 15,” he said. “I’m just really grateful to be back here and given this opportunity.”
Understanding that opportunity and the fact that it was his first real competition of “summer camp” allowed Adams to shrug off and eventually smile at the highlight moment of the morning workout when Kyle Lewis crushed a 94-mph fastball deep into the seats in right-center field. It was the second day in a row where a Mariners prospect produced a prodigious blast during live batting practice. Jarred Kelenic hit one off the facade of the Hit It Here Café on Tuesday (more on that later).
After striking out the first three hitters he faced — Braden Bishop, Lewis and Bishop again — Adams heard Dee Gordon yelling from the dugout.
“Dee’s talking trash and he’s saying, ‘That’s not a swing, he checked, he didn’t go,’ on some of the sliders and fastballs, just chirping and just good fun,” Adams said.
Adams exchanged a few words toward the dugout, then got ready to pitch.
Lewis stepped to the plate and ambushed the first-pitch fastball. The sound of ball hitting bat echoed through the stadium and was equaled by Gordon and other hitters yelling and going crazy.
After yelling an expletive the moment Lewis made contact, Adams watched the ball traveled, listened to his teammates’ reaction, said a few words to them and eventually cracked a smile at the interaction while getting another ball from a coach.
“Once Kyle hit that home run, I looked at Dee and I was like, ‘It’s about time you guys got a ball in play,’” Adams said. “That was hit pretty far. I’m glad I don’t have to face that guy and he is on my team.”
Before the injury, Adams was one of the Mariners’ better relievers. He posted a 3.77 ERA with 10 holds while striking out 51 batters with 14 walks in 31 innings pitched.
The Mariners will broadcast Friday’s first intrasquad game on ESPN 710 radio with Rick Rizzs, Aaron Goldsmith, Gary Hill Jr. and Shannon Drayer. The game will start somewhere between 2:30-2:45 p.m. and will be seven innings.
Lefty Justus Sheffield and right-hander Justin Dunn are the two primary starting pitchers for the game.
While they’ve been livestreaming the workouts on their YouTube channel, the Mariners are still waiting to hear from MLB if they can stream the intrasquads based on broadcast rules.
The club is also working out details with Root Sports about televising the intrasquad games. Root likely will start televising the intrasquad games sometime in the week leading up to opening day July 24 in Houston.
Servais plans to give the entire team July 17 off, then will begin scheduling the practice games in the evening to prepare for a season where 80% of the games will be played at night.
As expected, Servais confirmed that lefty Marco Gonzales will get the readjusted opening-day start July 24 at Minute Maid Park vs. the Astros. Before the coronavirus shut down baseball, Gonzales was slated to start the original opening day March 26 vs. the Rangers.
A year ago, Gonzales became the first pitcher not named Felix Hernandez to start an opening day for the Mariners since 2008. He actually made two opening day starts, pitching the first game of the March series against the A’s in Tokyo and returning to start on the leaguewide opening day against the Red Sox at T-Mobile.
“Just one opening day for him this year,” Servais said. “He’s capable and looking forward to it. He’s really focused in right now. All of our starters are, knowing they don’t have much time to get ready.”
• Jake Fraley was a full participant in Wednesday morning’s workout after being struck in the helmet during live batting practice on a fastball from Gerson Bautista. Servais said Fraley was fortunate that the ball only glanced off the back of the helmet.
• Servais jokingly asked for the sources who gave The Seattle Times the now-viral video of Kelenic’s home run swing on Tuesday, even hinting it might have been Kelenic himself. As a policy, the Times does not reveal anonymous sources.
“There have been a few pitchers that volunteered to face him,” Servais said. “He got into that one pretty good, but the guys were chirping about a little bit, and I can’t believe it showed up on social media as quick as it did.”