If Tommy Pham is at 100 percent, he could be a key piece to the puzzle for the Padres this season.
The only problem being that’s an awfully big ‘if’ at this point. So far this spring, Pham is just 4-for-27 (.148) and only recently snapped an 0-for-19 clip to open Cactus League play. After narrowly avoiding a potential career-ending injury or potentially death in a stabbing incident this offseason, the San Diego outfielder is looking to prove he’s ready to go.
"“I feel I have the most to prove,” Pham told USA Today in early March. “I know what I’m capable of bringing to the table with my speed and my athleticism. I know I’m being an above-average, elite player in the game.”"
More from Friars on Base
- Fernando Tatis Jr. may not take to outfield move after Xander Bogaerts addition
- Padres News: Fernando Tatis Jr. trade rumors, Seth Lugo chase, Manny Machado
- Padres barely missed out on high-end veteran starting pitcher
- This veteran DH target seems ideal for contending Padres roster
- Padres got steal with Xander Bogaerts after Carlos Correa’s mega-deal
Paired with a vision issue stemming from a genetic eye disorder known as keratoconus and it’s safe to say Pham faces an uphill battle as he looks to bounce back from a lackluster showing in 2020 when he batted just .211/.312/.312. But for San Diego to become an elite club, that’s exactly what has to happen. He needs to get back to what made him so successful just two years ago as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
That year, Pham turned in an .818 OPS – marking three-straight seasons where he eclipsed the .800 mark. But after cratering last season and watching his power seemingly evaporate, San Diego fans are worrying about whether or not he can be counted on this season.
Center fielder and leadoff hitter Trent Grisham is currently recovering from a Grade 1 hamstring strain, although he’s expected to be ready by Opening Day. Wil Myers is swinging a hot stick and will handle the bulk of reps in right field. For now, Pham is the guy in left – but if he starts out cold come April 1, it remains to be seen how long manager Jayce Tingler will stick with him.
Padres will let Tommy Pham work through things early on
Other internal options could include Jurickson Profar or Jake Cronenworth – although that arrangement is contingent on Grisham being back at 100 percent and San Diego not needing to figure out center field, either. I recently wrote about why Joey Gallo isn’t a feasible replacement for Grisham – to which some of you immediately pointed to Pham and said that Gallo could be an answer in left.
San Diego is going to give Pham a chance to work through the rust this spring and likely into the first half of the season. The offense has enough pieces to compensate for a slow start from the former 16th round pick and, should he still be struggling come mid-summer, we could see some alternatives take shape.
For now, Friars fans should just hope for the best when it comes to Pham. No one will be more motivated than he is this season, given he’s in a contract year. At age-33, the clock is ticking and next winter might be his last chance to cash in before his playing days are done.