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S a r a h ' s  D o d g e r  P l a c e

Sarah's Take: Terry Adams

9-23-01

As baseball returned to play this week, it has been evident that Terry Adams has become one of the Dodgers' best starters this season.

I remember when I thought Jim Tracy was making a huge mistake when he converted Adams into a starter. Now in hindsight I don't know how Tracy was so brilliant.

The trade that brought Adams to Los Angeles from the Chicago Cubs was not popular with Dodger fans. After all, the Dodgers traded popular second baseman and leadoff hitter Eric Young and good young starter Ismael Valdes for Adams and three minor leaguers. Adams never lived up to his abilities according to the Chicago Cubs and couldn't earn the closing job. Most Dodger fans didn't know who Adams was when the Dodgers obtained him.

After I saw him pitch for a little while, I know why he did not become the closer. To me, Adams does not appear to have the intense competitiveness that is required for closers. While on the mound he appeared laid-back and relaxed.

When Adams got into trouble, he tended to panic, in my opinion. I thought he should not pitch on consecutive days because he was not as effective on the second or third day of pitching as he was on the first. This is not the make-up of a closer.

A lot of people get into the wrong roles in their lives. If I listened to my teachers, I would never be a writer. If I listened to their recommendations, I would be a computer programmer. That is not right for me at all. I am not extremely logical. I don't pay attention to details well, nor am I a perfectionist. Whereas I could have programmed computers, I wouldn't have been good at it, or I wouldn't have been happy doing it. Being a closer or even a reliever was the wrong role for Adams.

When Terry became a Dodger, he was a setup man for Jeff Shaw. Adams didn't do badly, but he didn't make headlines except when he had a bad outing. I just ignored him. I didn't care if he pitched. I thought the Dodgers could trade him without missing him.

During last off-season the new Dodger manager, Tracy, thought about what he would do if a starter got injured. For some reason Adams occurred to Tracy as a possible replaceable starter.

Tracy started Adams in a few exhibition games, and he was impressive. I didn't think much about it because the Dodgers had a formidable rotation-Kevin Brown, Chan Ho Park, Darren Dreifort, Andy Ashby, and Eric Gagne. I did not expect more than one starter to get injured, and the Dodgers had Luke Prokopec in the Minor Leagues waiting for a chance to come to Los Angeles.

Adams began the season well, and his new changeup helped him dominate the opposition. The only game that Adams struggled was in Chicago. I was getting impressed with Adams. I thought he would be a mainstay of the Dodger bullpen.

In June, Ashby had been on the disabled list since April. When Brown injured his neck, the Dodgers needed a starter. Tracy turned to Adams to start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The career reliever had questions about his endurance. I believed if Adams could go five innings, the Dodgers would be extremely lucky. In his first career start, he went four and two-thirds innings and allowed three runs.

I believed Adams would be a starter just until Brown returned from the disabled list. Then Dreifort suffered a season-ending injury, and Adams remained in the starting rotation.

In every start Adams matured, learning how to pace himself and change speeds.

I admired him for his quick adjustment from relieving to starting. As a reliever, Adams had to be prepared to pitch everyday. As a starter, a pitcher has time to reflect on his performance. If he doesn't do well, he can dwell on it, dissecting everything. If he did do well, he can duplicate that in his next start.

Since starters must face the lineup several times during the game, he must change his pattern. Before the season Adams did not have a third pitch to give the hitters something else to think about, but as season has progressed, he has developed an effective changeup.

Since mid-July, Adams has been the most consistent Dodger starter. Now he regularly goes at least six innings and usually doesn't allow more than three runs a start. He has done everything that the Dodgers have asked. He has played a major role in keeping the Dodgers in the hunt for a playoff berth.

In my opinion, the Dodgers have little choice about re-signing free agent Adams to a long-term contract.

© Sarah D. Morris

 

 

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