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Cubs: Jason Adam’s return to big leagues punctuates remarkable comeback

2 years agoTony Andracki

Jason Adam served as the Cubs’ 29th man on the roster for Friday’s doubleheader against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

That, in and of itself, is not a necessarily a remarkable roster move but it represents an incredible comeback for the 30-year-old relief pitcher.

Adam suffered a compound dislocation in his left ankle on May 21 fielding balls during batting practice with Triple-A Iowa. Initially, there was a question if he would ever play again — let alone this season.

Yet almost exactly four months later, he’s back in the big leagues.

He pitched the 7th inning of Game 1 Friday and all he did was strike out the side, carving up a trio of Cardinals (including Nolan Arenado) on 15 pitches.

“Huge,” David Ross said. “What this guy has gone through this year and what the doctors and trainers were saying about his season — there was almost a zero percent chance of him being back. Pretty impressive.

“[It] was an easy call-up. It’s a great story, happy for him, happy he’s back. Worked his butt off to get to this spot. I think that just says a lot about him and the work he put in, our training staff — the whole deal is pretty impressive. Just seeing his face made me smile today after seeing the pictures of what that thing looked like when he broke it.”

Adam made the Cubs’ Opening Day bullpen after a solid debut season in Chicago last year (3.29 ERA in 13 games). He pitched in some high leverage moments in April (2 holds) but ultimately struggled and was sent down to the minors.

He came back up briefly in early May and shortly after he was sent back to Triple-A Iowa, he suffered the gruesome injury. As he was laying on the field, his initial thought was that his career might be over.

The week before the injury, he had watched “Project 11 — The Alex Smith Story,” a documentary that detailed how Washington quarterback recovered from a 2018 broken leg and subsequent infection. Once doctors told Adam that he was in the clear from any risk of infection, he began to realize the recovery could be pretty straightforward and set out to beat the three-month timeline.

While he was still in a boot, Adam kept his arm in shape by throwing from his knees. However, he got back on the mound a few weeks ago and still felt pain in his left ankle. 

“That was the first time I was like, ‘oh wait, I might not get to play again this year,'” Adam said. “Is this ever gonna feel right? And then it clicked and it stopped hurting when I was on the mound. And I was like, ‘oh cool! I’ll just go finish up the season with Triple-A.’

“[Pitching in the big leagues again] is awesome. I was just thankful for that. This is kind of like the cherry on top.”

Adam made 3 appearances in the rookie league at the beginning of this month and pitched 2 innings with Triple-A Iowa over the last week.

He felt like Friday’s return to Wrigley Field might rank even higher than his MLB debut on his career arc.

“Honestly, it’s kind of restored the joy of playing baseball,” Adam said. “Baseball’s a business and you can get caught up in that but just to realize that it’s a gift that I get to play every day. In a lot of ways, it was actually even cooler.”

All told, Adam has a 4.84 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 22.1 innings out of the Cubs bullpen the last two seasons.

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