Add crashing into the centerfield wall to make a catch to the ways Tommy Pham has contributed of late for the St. Louis Cardinals. His highlight reel catch in the 2nd inning of tonight’s game comes just a day after Pham spoke of wanting to be “an asset” on defense.
“If I could put up some good defensive numbers, where I’m considered above-average, it only helps out my value as a player,” said Pham after Monday’s game.
Don’t be confused, this isn’t a player looking selfishly to rack up stats. Tommy Pham is trying to prove that he should be in the lineup each and every game.
“I think he’s on a mission every time he puts his uniform on,” said Mike Matheny recently. “He just plays the game hard all the time.”
Since he was recalled on May 5th, Pham has hit .281 with 9 HRs and 31 RBIs. He also leads the team with seven stolen bases and has scored 31 runs. Defensively, he leads all the team’s outfielders with 6 assists.
But even with those results, Pham is looking at more ways to improve.
“Pittsburgh killed me,” he said. “For some reason, I haven’t hit them well since I’ve been up. I would like to hit better at home. At home, I’m just not putting up good offensive numbers. Overall, right now I’m still trying to elevate my game–to prove to myself that I can be this player that I think I can be.”
Playing up to those self-expectations and pressure can be mentally exhausting.
“Very,” said Pham. “At the end of the season, I can finally probably sleep better at night. I know what’s up against me. Everyday, my teammates they have a saying for me “you gotta eat”. Everyday I’m trying to do something.”
There’s also the physical grind of a season to deal with.
“My legs are killing me,” Pham shared. “Just grinding. 5-Hour Energy. Red Bull. I mixed Red Bull with orange juice today, that helped. So I got wings and vitamins.”
Making sure that he “eats” is a common phrase from Pham. Although it’s often teammates reminding him of his philosophy.
“It’s like a motto to stay hungry,” explained Pham. “Started with me saying ‘I need to eat’. I’d go 0-4, I’d be like ‘man, I starved today’ so guys just make a joke of it.”
Base hits, stealing bases, highlight reel catches–all feed the appetite.
“There’s multiple ways you can contribute,” said Pham, who even after a full day of plays in the field, on the bases, and the plate was yet to be full.
“Nah, not quite,” he smiled. “Not quite.”
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports, Bill Greenblatt/UPI, Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports