Austin Adams, one of Mariners’ most promising relievers, out 6-8 months
BALTIMORE – The news was not what Austin Adams or the Mariners wanted to hear.
The knee injury that the right-handed relief pitcher suffered Saturday night trying to avoid a collision with Orioles second baseman Hanser Alberto at first base was serious. An MRI taken Sunday morning revealed an injury to the ACL and meniscus that will require surgery. The recovery and rehab is expected to take six to eight months.
“Initially I thought I had hyperextended it,” Adams said at his locker Sunday following the Mariners’ 2-1 loss to the Orioles, crutches by his side. “I came in here and watched the video and saw the way the knee moved and thought that’s not a hyperextension. I tried to stay as optimistic as possible and not think negative thoughts but it is what it is. It’s not a surgery no one’s ever had before. There’s been success with it, I’m just going to stay positive and dominate rehab.”
The injury is a blow for both Adams and the Mariners as he had emerged as one of their better back-of-the-bullpen arms. Since being acquired from the Nationals on May 4 for cash, Adams has posted a 3.77 ERA with a 2.96 FIP. When healthy – he missed six weeks with a shoulder injury – he has flashed moments of dominance, posting a 15.13 K/9 rate, fourth-best of any reliever who has thrown 30 innings or more this season.
In a season where Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and staff were “mining for gold” (in the words of manager Scott Servais) when it came to relievers, Adams was a success story with a tweak in his pitch usage credited for the uptick in his performance. That success was reassurance that Adams needed in his career and something that will help him get through a long recovery and rehab period.
“It’s meant a lot,” Adams said. “Just showing myself I can compete at this level. Going out there and even when I do struggle, just throwing strikes. Competing with the best in the world. Getting DFA’d is a really, really weird situation. Being told that you are not good enough to play any more by an organization, then going out and pitching pretty well, it definitely helped this year with my confidence. That’s the biggest thing.”
The swelling in Adams’ left knee will need to subside before surgery will be able to be performed. After that there will be recovery and rehab which will take place near his home in Tampa, Fla. He is not expected to return until June 2020 at the very earliest and the team will no doubt take it cautiously with him. With 2020 expected to be another building year for the Mariners there is no need to rush the 28-year-old Adams, who is under club control through the 2024 season.