In the past two years, an injury both has accelerated and slowed the college pitching career of Bethesda native Hugh Adams.
This summer, Adams has rejoined the Bethesda Big Train, a team for which he once served as a batboy during his pre-teen years.
Slated as Florida Atlantic University’s set-up man prior to the 2011 season, Adams, who played his high school baseball at St. John’s College (D.C.), was moved into the closer’s role because of an injury to the team’s projected closer. All Adams did was lead the Sun Belt Conference with 10 saves to earn first team all-conference and All-South Central Region honors.
“The reason I had success was I was just not walking people,” said Adams, who posted a 3.44 earned run average with 29 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings in 2011 while holding the opposition to a .231 batting average.
Adams said whether he’s a set-up man or a closer, his mentality doesn’t change.
“It’s pretty much the same, you have to get people out and you’re supposed to throw strikes,” he said.
Following shoulder surgery last fall, Adams was expected to return to form this past spring and even was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's 2012 Stopper of the Year watch list.
“Because of his experience and skill level, Hugh is being looked upon to play a significant role on this year's team,” Florida Atlantic coach John McCormack said in an article on the school’s website prior to the season.
But his shoulder wouldn’t cooperate.
“I did all the rehab and everything but I just wasn’t coming back,” Adams said. “I had a lot of pain every time I was throwing. At the start of the season, I wasn’t ready. I went to a place in Waco, Texas, and they fixed me up … and I’ve been throwing since.”
Having missed most of the season, however, Adams and the Florida Atlantic coaching staff decided that he should take a medical redshirt to preserve a final year of college eligibility.
“It would have been nice to follow up last year with another good year, but I hope I still have a chance [to be selected in the Major League Baseball draft],” he said. “But it all comes down to how I perform.”
Adams hopes to use this summer playing for the Big Train to regain his form in a competitive setting. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound hurler started his playing career with Bethesda in 2006. His father, Bruce Adams, co-founded the college wooden bat team in the late 1990s, and the club has dominated the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.
“I’m trying to get out there and feel good,” Adams said. “The biggest thing is facing hitters, which I haven’t been doing. The reason everyone is here is to get better to make your college team better. I want to help my team do better. Hopefully, I’ll get in a couple of innings and hopefully get back on track.”
Big Train manager Sal Colangelo hopes so too if his squad is to capture a fourth consecutive CRCBL title.
“He’s going to be used in set-up or as the closer,” Colangelo said. “We’re going to use him basically to close the door or stop the bleeding. He’s been, since a young kid, a huge part of this team from being a bat boy all the way up to now. He knows how we do things and how we get things done.
“He’s a great kid. He’s one of my favorite all-time players. He’s going to be a big part if we’re going to win the league.”