With Jason Heyward not returning and Jon Jay traded away to San Diego, Tommy Pham understands the vote of confidence he’s received from the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said while speaking at the Winter Warm-Up. “Heyward was a great teammate, good friend but by him not re-signing and them trading Jon, it shows they have high expectations and they think very highly of me as a player. All this is good news to me.”
“I have expectations for myself, so anything I do is probably expected on my end,” said Pham. “I finished on a real high note. From when I get recalled back up and when I made the adjustment to my swing–I took off offensively.”
In his first 13 games last season, Pham hit .182 (8-44). After the adjustments, he finished the season batting .303 (33-109) with 4 HRs and 15 RBIs.
“When I was up here in July, I had my hands a little bit away from the slot. When I went down to Triple A, it’s something that I studied and looked at, Tommy sought the advice of hitting coach Mark Budaska who suggested moving his hands back. “He was like just move them back, closer to that slot because I was getting beat a lot–not necessarily getting beat, but I was always fouling off the heater and I never necessarily had the problem. And when I moved my hands back and I came back up, I was on time. Plain and simple, I wasn’t missing the fastball like I was in the first call-up.”
Besides feeling good about his swing, Pham is excited about his potential this season for another reason–he can see better.
“I’m very optimistic too because I had a lot of problems with my contacts and now I have some new ones coming in,” he explained. “They’ll be here next Thursday. With even better vision, I feel like that’s going to help me out offensively and defensively.”
Pham suffers from keratoconus, which is a condition where the cornea is unable to keep its round shape.
“My vision was off but I found ways to get the job done with them,” continued Pham, who saw a doctor in LA and learned about the hybrid contacts.
“The previous offseason, the new ones I received weren’t necessarily the best fit. Plus, from what I’ve learned at this new doctor, the type of contacts that I wear are important as well because in the previous years, I’ve always wore gas-perms. They don’t necessarily–when you put them on, they stick on your eye. When your eyes move, let’s say I’m diving and you’re kind of looking through your lens and at the ball, you’re not necessarily looking at the ball through the prescription on the lens because they don’t move around on your cornea as good as these hybrids do. I just learned that.”
Pham plans to have extra contacts on hand as he’s yet to be able to test them out in terms of fielding to see how well they stay in his eyes.
“These hybrids, they don’t stick on your eye so they might pop out but they’re going to give me the best vision–not necessarily the best fit, but I wanted the best vision.”
Lasik is not an option as Pham’s cornea is to thin to cut on. Glasses do not provide a consistent prescription for his vision without moving his head–which proves to be an issue when needing to stay still and track the ball with your eyes during an at-bat.
Besides meeting with the eye doctor, Pham also worked with a nutritionist this off-season.
“Apprarently, I don’t eat enough vegetables,” shared Pham. “They’re saying the vegetables, it’s helps your cellular tissue in your muscles. I like to eat meat–sorry to any vegetarians, but I guess that’s not the right way to eat. So, I have to eat a lot more vegetables.”
photo credit: St. Louis Baseball Weekly, Bill Grenblatt/UPI