Adams recalled from Rochester, Millas optioned down, Ferrer moved to Harrisburg

The Nationals made a switch at their backup catcher position Wednesday afternoon, recalling Riley Adams from Triple-A Rochester and optioning Drew Millas back to Rochester.

Adams, 28, was sent down to Rochester and replaced by Millas on the major league roster a month ago after he hit .215 with five doubles, two homers, six RBIs, seven walks, one stolen base and six runs scored in 25 games with the Nationals.

Now after 22 games with the Red Wings, he’s back in the big leagues with improved timing at the plate and another defensive position in his back pocket to give manager Davey Martinez more flexibility.

“Feels good to be back,” Adams said mere minutes after he returned to the clubhouse at Nats Park. “Obviously I've been here now for 20 minutes and I'm happy to be back. Happy to be here and anyway can help the team and all that stuff, I'm here for. That's what I told Davey. I'm excited to get back to work.”

Adams slashed .288/.396/.550 with a .946 OPS, three doubles, six homers, 13 RBIs, 12 walks and 16 runs scored with Rochester.

“Feeling like I'm where I want to be in the box,” he said. “Feeling like my timing's back. Being able to get a couple more at-bats over the last month or so just helped kind of find my rhythm and timing again that I didn't have for stretches when I was up here last.”

“We want to get him (back). He's been doing really well,” Martinez said. “The big reason now is to get him to play some first base. He's played some first down there. We made some adjustments with his hitting. He was a little more consistent. So we thought now, you know, we got a day game tomorrow. They got a lefty pitching. So we'll start him (at catcher) tomorrow. But we thought it was a good time to get him back up here.”

Adams hit four of his six home runs in his first 11 games in Rochester, including a two-homer game as a part of a four-hit outing on June 5 at Worchester (Red Sox). In that stretch, he went 15-for-41 (.366).

“I think it's always kind of been there as an option,” Adams said of his power. “It's something that I feel like I can go over there and play. Again, just trying to find ways I can help the team in whatever way possible.”

And that was not a typo earlier: Yes, Adams has been working more at first base and getting actual playing time there. In three games, he posted a perfect fielding percentage while recording 19 putouts and one assist in 20 chances. He was also involved in two double plays.

“Felt pretty comfortable,” Adams said. “Certainly a different vantage point than catching. But yeah, for the most part, it feels pretty good. Feels comfortable. And if there's a situation where I can help the team out there then I'd be more than willing to do that and ready to play over there.”

“He's a good athlete. He really is,” Martinez said of why Adams is a good candidate to also play first. “He's a very good athlete and he's a student of the game. He just wants to get better and try to help us win.”

Adams has worked some at first base over his four years with the Nats. But it always seemed more like a “break glass in case of emergency” situation. This time his work over there was different because he was actually playing in games consistently. Adams had played first in three minor league games with the Nats before this season. He played three in this one minor league stint.

“This time it was a little bit different because like I said, he went down and he actually played in games and did really well,” Martinez said. “So like I said, I feel comfortable now about putting him out there and playing out there if we need him.”

Joey Gallo remains on the injured list with a left hamstring strain, so Joey Meneses has played the most at first recently. With James Wood’s promotion this week, Jesse Winker has increased his pregame work at first as another way to keep his bat in the lineup while the top prospect in baseball plays left field. Harold Ramírez also has experience as a first baseman.

This just gives the Nationals more depth and versatility on the bench.

“I think it's always kind of been there as an option,” Adams said. ”It's something that I feel like I can go over there and play. Again, just trying to find ways I can help the team in whatever way possible.”

Martinez isn't going to throw Adams in at first base right away. But he could get more playing time either there or behind the pate against left-handed pitching, giving the switch-hitting Keibert Ruiz some more rest.

Millas, 26, hit .167 with a double, homer, one RBI, two stolen bases and two runs scored in 11 games with the Nationals during his month-long stint in the majors.

“Go continue to do what he's doing,” Martinez said of the message to his other young catcher. “This time up here, he seemed like he had a little bit more confidence. I love the way he worked with the pitchers. I really did. I just want to get him down there again. He didn't play as much. But I want to get him down and start playing every day. Continue to work. Be a little bit more aggressive hitting. We had some numbers where he's always hitting with two strikes. When he gets a pitch to hit, I want him to be ready to hit.

“But he'll be back. He's done a lot better. This time around, he did (a lot) better. He worked with (catching and strategy coach) Henry (Blanco) on his throwing and being more consistent with his throwing. And he's got a lot better. So now it's just to get him a chance to go out there and start playing and get some at-bats. Hopefully when we need him, he's ready.”

* Jose A. Ferrer had his rehab assignment transferred from the Rookie-level Florida Complex League to Double-A Harrisburg yesterday. Still working his way back from a left lat strain, the lefty reliever pitched a scoreless inning with one walk and two strikeouts on 15 pitches, nine strikes.

“He's doing well,” Martinez said. “He's gonna pitch in Harrisburg. He's gonna go out there. He's gotta build up. We want to make sure he goes back-to-back days before we bring him back up here. But he's getting there.”

What did he show to clear him for Double-A ball?

“He’s throwing 99 (mph),” Martinez said with wide eyes. “And he’s got no issues. So he’s done well.”

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