Following an oblique injury, Tommy Pham spent much of the season's first half at Triple-A Memphis before returning to the big club. Then, following the All-Star break, he struggled even further and hit to the tune of .219/.321/.421. When healthy, Pham showed neither the ability to be a reliable everyday player nor any semblance of plate discipline. He made contact on just 66.1 percent of his swings and struck out in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances. Pham was also helpless against left-handed pitchers, who held the right-handed bat to a .206 batting average. He has an interesting combination of power and speed that could be useful to fantasy owners if he was ever given the strong side of an outfield platoon for a full season, but that does not seem likely in St. Louis after Dexter Fowler was signed to be the everyday center fielder going forward.
Pham was optioned to Triple-A Memphis on Friday, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. The news comes as a minor surprise, but makes sense considering the recent emergence of Jose Martinez, who is hitting .378/.491/.756 with four home runs this spring. Pham, on the other hand, has struggled to a .209 average in 21 Grapefruit League games and has struck out 16 times. The 29-year-old has never been known for his bat and it appears that was his downfall in a deep St. Louis outfield. Despite the demotion, Pham will provide a good source of organizational depth and likely be called up at some point during the regular season.
Pham went 1-for-1 with a pinch-hit, two-run triple in Monday's spring game. Pham is now 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI in his last two games, bringing his spring line to .258/.378/.355. There is still time left for the 29-year-old to earn a utility spot on the Cardinals roster, but he'll have to improve his numbers in order to do so.
Pham exited Friday's game after sustaining a lip laceration while sliding into second, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. It's unclear how serious the issue is or how long he'll be out, so consider Pham day-to-day until the Cardinals say otherwise.
Pham went 2-for-4 with a two-run single and run in Sunday's 9-9 Grapefruit League tie with the Marlins. Pham led off and had some much-needed success at the plate. Even with the pair of singles he generated Sunday, Pham's spring line sits at .222/.323/.222, so he'll need several more productive outings to get his numbers closer to the levels necessary to remain a viable utility option for manager Mike Matheny in 2017.
Pham entered Thursday's 9-4 Grapefruit League victory over the Braves as a pinch runner in the bottom of the fifth inning and notched a stolen base, while also singling in his only at-bat. After slashing .226/.324/.440 over 183 plate appearances in 2016, Pham projects as the primary backup at both left field and center field heading into 2017. Pham's nine home runs last season represented his best figure in that category over his three stints with the big league club, but he also generated a mammoth 38.8 percent strikeout rate that was his highest since his time at Double-A Springfield back in 2012. The 28-year-old has seen plenty of action thus far this spring, hitting .273 with one walk, one run and a pair of stolen bases over 11 at-bats.