4/4/2014 7:11 P.M. ET
Adams proving to be effective against defensive shifts
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Matt Adams, getting his first sustained opportunity to be the Cardinals' everyday first baseman, opened the season with five hits in a three-game series against the Reds. What's a bit surprising, though, is that four of those hits went to left field -- all while the Reds shifted their infield defense expecting Adams to pull the ball.
Hitting against the shift isn't all that new to Adams, who saw more teams defend him with an unconventional infield alignment last season and even in Spring Training. He's talked about countering it with the occasional surprise bunt, but has thus far had success just by taking advantage of where he has been pitched.
"After my first at-bat against [Johnny] Cueto [on Monday], all pitches were away and there was nobody over there at third base," Adams said. "It kind of surprised me a little bit. But maybe their feeling was to throw it out there and try to get me to pull it. I've just got to stick with my approach and hit the ball where it was pitched."
His two hits to left field on Thursday were also on pitches over the outer part of the plate that Adams was able to poke the other way.
"I've never thought of him as a pull-only hitter," Matt Holliday said. "But maybe the numbers show different. He doesn't seem to me like a guy who is a huge shift guy."
Teams aren't shifting him without reason -- Adams did show a tendency to pull the ball last season -- but the success of a shift is often predicated on the pitching that accompanies it. Pitching a left-handed hitter inside is more likely to draw a hit toward the right side of the field.
If Adams can continue to show teams he can hit to all parts of the field, he may end up beating the shift by forcing teams not to use one.
"He has worked on using the whole field," manager Mike Matheny said. "I know that's something I watched him do before he got to the big league level. He has the ability to use the whole field and probably didn't as much last year. I think people are just still learning him."
Festivites await Cardinals in Monday's home opener
PITTSBURGH -- An unveiling of the 2013 National League Championship flag and the opening of the Cardinals' Hall of Fame and Museum will highlight the events and festivities scheduled in conjunction with the Cardinals' home opener on Monday.
The day will begin with a 10 a.m. CT dedication ceremony of the Hall of Fame and Museum, which will be located in the recently open-for-business Ballpark Village. A pregame pep rally in the Ballpark Village parking lot will be free for fans to enjoy from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Busch Stadium gates will open two hours before the scheduled 3:15 p.m. first pitch, and the on-field pregame ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. The Budweiser Clydesdales will circle the stadium and be followed by a motorcade in which the Cardinals' Hall of Famers and members of the current team will be introduced. Tony La Russa, who was recently elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, will be taking part in the Hall of Fame parade and wearing one of the signature red jackets.
Four Commissioner's Trophies will be on display, and, after the Reds and Cardinals are introduced, the NL Championship banner will be raised. Chris Carpenter, who announced his retirement after the 2013 season and is now a member of the front-office staff, will throw the ceremonial first pitch.
Adams maintains contact with fan was incidental
PITTSBURGH -- A day after he made contact with a fan while coming out of the stands on a missed catch, Matt Adams said he had not heard from Major League Baseball about potential disciplinary action stemming from the incident. Adams also said again that he did not intentionally shove a fan who made the catch on a foul ball he was chasing.
"It's going back to what I said last night -- I was just trying to get back to my feet to regain balance so I don't go into the stands," Adams said on Friday afternoon. "The video may look otherwise, but that's not the way it went.
"That would be the wrong thing for people to think. I've said it before that that's not who I am. I go about my business in a quiet manner, get my work done, respect my teammates, respect the coaching staff, respect other players. I respect people the way I want to be respected."
Plenty of people have looked at the video, as it has been widely circulated on the Internet and been replayed on national networks. It shows Adams leaning into the Great American Ball Park stands as he tried to reach Chris Heisey's foul ball and then pushing a fan with his glove as he pulled himself back up.
He returned to first base without turning back to the fan or saying anything to him. The fan made an obscene gesture, and he was one of several in the section to then yell at Adams.
"That whole section was kind of cursing at me when I turned around and went back," Adams said. "I figured Cincy is a rowdy place, and it was two good teams going at it. Whether that situation happened or not, I think anybody is going to hear it from the fans. That's something I don't worry about."
Manager Mike Matheny said he did not see the contact in real time, nor did he feel the need to review video of the incident. He added that he was "extremely surprised" by the attention that all this has received.
"Obviously, I still understand where this is going," Matheny said. "But it would have seemed like in regular motion, you would have seen if he would have violently gone after somebody. And it didn't look like somebody at all. I understand the position we all need to take is we're not in the business of making a movement toward fans. That just didn't seem like one to start using as an example."
Ellis could head to rehab assignment soon
PITTSBURGH -- Manager Mike Matheny indicated on Friday that Mark Ellis, who began the season on the disabled list with left knee patella tendinitis, will likely begin a Minor League rehab assignment after the Cardinals' home-opener festivities.
Ellis has not resumed hitting, but he is "throwing and fielding pretty well," Matheny said. The second baseman is eligible to come off the disabled list on April 11, though the Cardinals have not yet publically projected whether they expect him to return on that date.
Going out on a rehab assignment would allow Ellis to make up some of the at-bats he has lost while dealing with an ailing knee. He sat out for an eight-day stretch in mid-March after initially feeling discomfort in his knee and now hasn't played since March 26. Ellis tallied 30 at-bats in 12 Spring Training games. Since 2006, he had never left Spring Training with fewer than 53.
• Triple-A Memphis opened its season with a 10-2 win on Thursday. Outfielder Randal Grichuk and third baseman Scott Moore homered in the win, which was awarded to David Aardsma, who struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief.
• Matheny said he is getting reports that all is progressing well with left-hander Jaime Garcia (left shoulder bursitis) in Florida. Garcia stayed behind at the Cardinals' spring complex and continues to throw bullpen sessions and play long toss as he goes through the process of building up arm strength. Matheny was unaware of any plans to have Garcia face batters soon.
• Jason Motte is expected to throw in an extended spring training game or simulated game in Florida on Saturday. Motte is 11 months removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.