WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Matt Adams is going to fly home with the Nationals tonight, play in Tuesday’s exhibition finale against the Yankees and attend the team’s annual charity gala that evening. And then, if he doesn’t get a big league offer from another organization, the veteran slugger will report to Triple-A Rochester and hope he gets called up sometime this season.
Adams came to this conclusion Saturday night after consultation with his wife and his agent, hours after he was informed by manager Davey Martinez he wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster despite a strong showing at the plate throughout spring training.
“It’s tough to hear, especially coming in and doing everything I possibly could to put myself in the position to possibly have my name called to be on the roster,” the 34-year-old said. “But I totally understand. I can walk away with my head held high. I’m very proud of the way I came in and handled myself, and the way I went about my business, the teammate that I was and all the knowledge I gave to the younger guys. That was a blast. It was a lot of fun. I’m going to just continue to put the uniform on and play the game that I love.”
A member of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series roster, Adams hasn’t been a regular in the big leagues since. He played in 16 games for the Braves in 2020, 22 games for the Rockies in 2021 and then spent the entire 2022 season playing independent ball in Kansas City.
After sending letters to all 30 clubs over the winter, Adams was given a chance to come back to the Nationals this spring as a non-roster invitee. With a new perspective on his career – he said he fell back in love with the game last season – he looked good at the plate, batting .333 (13-for-39) with five doubles and a home run.
“I was joking with my wife and my agent yesterday, I think I shocked myself a little bit,” Adams said. “Just being out of spring training for a few years and coming back in this year and being thrown right into the fire and facing the best pitchers in the league, I was super proud of myself. Super grateful for these guys giving me the opportunity to come into camp and showcase my skills and show I can still do it.”
Ultimately, though, the Nats felt they needed to use the last spot on the bench on a more versatile player, someone who can play multiple positions and be used as a pinch-runner as needed. Utility infielder Michael Chavis, batting .211 (8-for-38) with one double and one homer, is the only remaining healthy player in major league camp, but manager Davey Martinez said no final decisions have been made, suggesting the club could still be looking for potential last-minute options from outside the organization.
Chavis will be among the players who board the Nationals’ charter flight tonight without having officially been told they’ve made the Opening Day roster. Relievers Mason Thompson, Thaddeus Ward, Anthony Banda and Hobie Harris also fall into that category, even though they’re the only remaining healthy pitchers in camp who haven’t been cut.
“They’ve just got to keep going,” Martinez said. “Honestly, it’s tough, I know. But throughout the day today I’ll talk to them and tell them: We’re close to the end. A decision will be made here in a few days. But keep going. These last few days could mean something for some of you guys.”
* With an off-day Monday, both Trevor Williams and MacKenzie Gore will pitch three innings during Tuesday’s exhibition finale. Martinez said Williams will get the start, based solely on veteran status. The Nats haven’t announced their rotation plans to begin the season, but Gore is expected to start the finale of the opening, three-game series against the Braves after Patrick Corbin and Josiah Gray. Williams would then start the April 3 series opener against the Rays.
* Sean Doolittle and Tanner Rainey will accompany the team to D.C. and will be at Opening Day at Nationals Park. The veteran relievers, each recovering from elbow surgery, will then return to West Palm Beach to continue their rehab. Carter Kieboom (elbow), Victor Arano (shoulder) and Israel Pineda (finger) will remain in Florida rehabbing to begin the season.
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