Tommy Pham was a bit dazed Friday afternoon. Not only was he recalled from Class AAA Memphis to the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
Pham, a right-handed hitter, batted eighth and played center against the San Diego Padres. His arrival, once again, gave the Cardinals four outfielders.
“I’m overwhelmed right now,” Pham said four hours before the first pitch. “I really don’t have the answer for (how I will react). I’ll just smile more, I guess. That’s my best guess. I’m happy. I’m excited. I’m ready to go.”
Pham was 0-for-3 in the Cardinals’ 2-1 loss.
Pham, 27, was batting a gaudy .338 with six doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBIs in 24 games at Memphis. The start of his season was delayed after he suffered a slow-to-heal quadriceps tear in spring training that shattered his dream of making the team.
Pham finally started playing June 6 in Memphis.
“He’s had a real nice start since he’s been able to regain his health,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s the hottest bat down there, and we need a little spark right now. We need to get some offense going. It’s an opportunity to get Tommy right in and see if he can continue to do what he’s been doing.”
To make room for Pham, the Cardinals optioned left-hander Tim Cooney to Memphis. Matheny said Cooney, who got a no-decision Thursday against the Padres, and Tyler Lyons are candidates to pitch Tuesday when the Cardinals play a day-night doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Cooney declined comment Friday when asked about his return to Memphis.
Pham said he finally began to feel healthy in late May.
“The whole time in rehab, I was just focusing on coming back, getting my quad 100 percent so that when I’m able to play again, I’m off to the races,” Pham said. “In rehab, the coaches in extended (spring training) did a really good job preparing me and keeping me as close to 100 percent as possible. It’s kind of hard to do when I’m not running.
“Offensively, they were putting me in the hitting groups, they were flipping (soft tosses) to me extra. They did a really good job with me.”
“Still, Pham said his recovery lasted “a little longer than everyone expected just because of the extent of the injury.”
“Fortunately, I’m healthy now,” he said. “When I hurt myself in spring training, at first I thought it was only going to be a couple of days. As it progressed, I was getting worried by the day.”
Of his hot start with the Redbirds, Pham explained it away.
“All luck. All luck. All luck,” Pham said with a straight face.
“I knew if I continued to perform well, something good for me would happen,” he said. “It happened sooner rather than later.”
The Cardinals played with three outfielders Thursday: Jason Heyward, Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk. Jon Jay was placed on the disabled list before the game to make room for Cooney. Pham’s arrival added a much-needed outfielder, and Mark Reynolds is available, too, in an emergency situation.
Scruggs back at first
Xavier Scruggs has been getting the bulk of the playing time at first base since he arrived two weeks ago from Memphis. Scruggs was in the lineup again Friday.
“Xavier came in (Thursday) night and put together another big at-bat,” Matheny said. “He was a guy who was hot before he came here. We’ve given him some opportunities and he’s done a great job. But also, it gives (Reynolds) time to go work and get some things straightened out.”
Reynolds had been playing most of the time at first base after Matt Adams’ season-ending quadriceps injury, but Reynolds has tailed off lately. He began Friday batting .230 with 72 strikeouts in 204 at-bats. The Cardinals liked Reynolds because of his power potential off the bench, but Reynolds has just five home runs.
“It’s hard,” Matheny said. “Hitting is no fun sometimes.”
Garcia in Chicago?
Matheny said the Cardinals are hopeful that Jaime Garcia (3-3, 1.69 ERA) can pitch Tuesday against the Cubs. Garcia, recovering from cramping in his left groin, still hasn’t thrown a bullpen, but could do that Saturday or Sunday. He hasn’t pitched since June 24.
Cooney would be eligible to return under the “26th man rule,” which permits the use of an additional player for doubleheaders. In most cases, a player optioned to the minors would need to spend 10 days there before being allowed to return to the major leagues.
Yangervis Solarte tripled with one out and Jedd Gyorko followed with an RBI single, both against Trevor Rosenthal, to lift the San Diego Padres over the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 on Friday at Busch Stadium. The run ended Rosenthal’s streak of 24 scoreless innings and extended the Cardinals’ losing streak to a season-high four games.
Odds and ends
Michael Wacha allowed one run on five hits in seven innings, surrendering a home run to Gyorko in the seventh that made it 1-1. The Cardinals had taken a 1-0 lead in the fifth on Xavier Scruggs double-play ball with the bases loaded against Andrew Cashner. ... Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save. ... The Cardinals are 1-for-34 with runners in scoring position in their last four games.
Carlos Martinez (9-3, 2.80 ERA) will pitch for the Cardinals against Odrisamer Despaigne (3-6, 4.94 ERA) at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.