Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pham Is Making a Case for Himself

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pham Is Making a Case for Himself

Article excerpt

MIAMI * Tommy Pham made his sixth straight start in the outfield for the Cardinals on Wednesday night. In the first five, he had been explosive, hitting three homers and three doubles and driving in six runs.

If this is the last chance the 29-year-old Pham will have to impress the Cardinals' manager and staff, he certainly is running with it.

Pham, asked if he thought this might be his last opportunity to show something here, said, "I would sort of say, 'Yeah.' But one thing I did learn down in Triple-A is that ... if it doesn't work with one, there's always other teams that have interest."

But Pham, who has been up and down from Class AAA to the majors in each of the last three seasons, battling vision and injury problems along the way, said he wasn't particularly interested in going somewhere else.

"St. Louis is the only team I've ever played for," he said. "I was drafted by them and been in this organization a long time (since 2006)."

Pham, who had nine homers but 71 strikeouts in 159 at-bats last year, thinks this is the right time. "I'm confident in my ability," he said. "I believe I can perform at a very high level at this level.

"When I was evaluating myself with my Triple-A hitting coach (Mark Budaska), everything was where we wanted it. My line-drive percentages were higher. My strikeout percentages were at their lowest. I was hitting fly balls everywhere in the outfield. They have a spread sheet down there where they grade quality at-bats. A walk and a hit are quality at-bats, so over 50 percent of my at-bats down there were quality at-bats. We knew I was going in the right direction."

Pham, who has had an eye disorder called keratoconus, has struggled for years to find the right contact lenses. This spring, he thought he had the right mixture but discovered the lenses were too small.

"We needed to make them larger and we needed to fine-tune the prescription a little," said Pham, who got the adjustments after laboring in spring training with 16 strikeouts in 41 at-bats and a .209 average, which got him sent to Memphis.

Is this the best Pham we've seen? "Just give it a month and see where we are," said Pham, who said his defense also had improved because he could see the ball better. …

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