You don’t have to look far to find the reason for how the Brewers are leading the NL Central, seven games ahead of the Reds. Dominican shortstop Willy Adames is having a dream season since being acquired from the Rays on May 21. He is 162-47 (.290) with nine homers and 30 RBIs for Milwaukee. He’s already seventh in WAR (wins over replacement) within the team (2.0).
Before the All-Star break, MLB.com spoke with the Dominican shortstop about his comeback with the Brewers and his time with the Rays.
MLB.com: You got off to a slow start with the Rays. You are now having a great season since you were traded to the Brewers in late May. Which is the reason?
Willy Adames: I feel like I regained my confidence when I got to Milwaukee. He also had some trouble seeing the ball in the Trop [Tropicana Field]. I feel like that was an important factor. But if you look at the numbers on the road they are similar [a los de Milwaukee]. It is an important difference.
MLB.com: When you were out of the Trop, what advantage did you have in the batter’s box?
Adames: Whenever he was on the road, he felt like he could better recognize the rotation of the ball. I could tell if it was a breakup, change, or whatever. In the Trop, he couldn’t recognize them. It was difficult. When you’re 20-0 or something like that, you try to make adjustments, so you look at that kind of thing and change your swing. Now I realize that it was not me. I was not seeing the ball. So he was trying to make adjustments in an attempt to be successful at the Trop.
MLB.com: Was it lighting?
Adames: It was enlightenment. I think so. In 2018 it was fine when they had the old lighting system, then they changed it. I don’t know what they did, but it took me getting used to it. There were a couple of guys who complained, I wasn’t the only one.
MLB.com: You mentioned that you regained confidence in Milwaukee, how did you get it?
Adames: I regained confidence by being myself at the plate. The way the Brewers have treated me is special. How they welcomed me was great. I am very happy about it. Everybody feels that way when they get here. They welcome you with open arms and a smile on their faces. I felt a good vibe when I got here.
MLB.com: Everyone talks about you as one of the team leaders, how did you achieve that?
Adames: I do not know. I think it is something natural that I have. I never try to be the leader of a team or something like that. I just try to be a good partner, I try to help whoever needs it. I try to be the same every day, whether it goes well or badly. This is how I am, I like to enjoy the game and have fun. I’m glad to share that with my colleagues. I feel like that’s the right way to play; having fun.
MLB.com: How does it feel to play with the Brewers and their fans?
Adames: Amazing. The other day we had a series against the Cubs. It felt like the postseason. It was impressive. It feels good to play in front of so many fans like them. For me it was special.
MLB.com: You were born and raised in the Dominican Republic, how did you manage to adjust so well to the United States? You are always the first to speak to the press.
Adames: It was difficult in the beginning [entre risas]. I’m still learning. Did not know any english [cuando llegue al país]. It was difficult to learn a new language. I had to adapt to a different country, different rules and a different culture.
I have a lot to thank my teammates in the minors. I really appreciate Kean Wong [hermano de Kolten] and to Andrew Velázquez, because I lived with them for two or three years. They were the ones who helped me the most with the language and the culture – just living here. I wanted to learn English. The only chance I had was living with them. Being around him on a daily basis helped me a lot. If I wanted to be able to express myself, I had to learn the language.
MLB.com: What do the Brewers have ahead of them? They are doing very well.
Adames: We’ve been playing really good baseball and I think we have to keep doing that – keep having fun and take advantage of all the advantages that rivals give us. If we all stay healthy, I think we will be fine. We have a very good team.
MLB.com: Do you want to stay long-term in Milwaukee?
Adames: I really like being here. I’m comfortable. The fans are amazing. The group of players and coaches are good people.
MLB.com: How does your family feel in Milwaukee?
Adames: They haven’t come yet. They come next month, I hope. I told them it was special. That series against the Cubs made me feel like I was living a dream. I told Avisaíl García: “I am living a dream, this is crazy. Is incredible”. The only time I’ve ever felt like this was in the postseason. [del 2019] with the fans. In 2019 we had a packed Trop. That’s how he felt about the Cubs.
MLB.com: What do you think of your time in Tampa?
Adames: It was a great time. It was a learning process the first couple of years. I have to thank you for the opportunity you gave me to play every day in the majors. I loved playing there. The fans are very respectful, really good. The organization is amazing.
MLB.com: No resentment?
Adames: No no no. I am very grateful for the opportunity. I always will be.
MLB.com: When you were changed, what was your first reaction?
Adames: I was surprised. I did not know anything. I didn’t know what was happening. At first it was sad. I spent seven years with the organization, I had my people there. I was going to a new team, but a couple of guys I knew from here calmed me down. They gave me hope that everything would be okay. They called me and told me that he will take the first flight and forget about everything. That made me feel good.
MLB.com: Who spoke to you?
Adames: Avisaíl and Narvy [Omar Narváez]. They called me like four times that day. They told me everything would be fine. My Tampa First Base Coach [Ozzie Timmons] He said it would be good for me and my career. I was sad but also excited because I knew it would be a new opportunity with a new team, city and fans. I am grateful to be a part of this ensemble.
Adames: I am enjoying it. We are playing really well. The first thing that came to mind as soon as I was changed was that I was going to a winning team, a team that is fighting for the postseason. That’s what I like. I love to win and I like to compete. I am happy to be part of this team.