Bizarre accident leads to head laceration for Pham

Cardinals outfielder exits game; status uncertain for series finale

April 26th, 2018

ST. LOUIS -- Tommy Pham didn't know what happened. One minute he was in the batting cage in the bowels of Busch Stadium, trying to perfect a swing that still feels off, despite his hot start.
The next, he was disoriented, a gash opened across his right temple and his jersey pooled with blood.
"It damaged my modeling career," Pham said. "Let's see how many ladies still like me."
The Cardinals center fielder could still manage a small laugh about a bizarre incident that led to his early removal from Wednesday's 9-1 win over the Mets at Busch Stadium. Prior to his upcoming at-bat in the third inning, Pham sustained an accidental head laceration when a resistance band malfunctioned in the batting cage. He exited the game due to the bleeding, though the wound did not require stitches.
Pham passed a litany of tests, including concussion protocol. He said he'll try to talk his way into the lineup for Thursday's series finale, but his status is unclear.
"I've been stabbed, I've been through a lot, let's say that," Pham said. "I've felt pain before. The only thing was the blood. I couldn't get the blood to stop."
When it did, Pham volunteered to stay in the game. His teammates were shocked to see him emerge from the dugout tunnel with a bandage across his right temple and red stains on his uniform.
"I told [manager] Mike [Matheny] I could play," Pham said. "He said, 'With that big thing on your forehead, how can you put a helmet on?'"
Unsatisfied despite his all-around production, Pham has routinely ventured to the batting cages for extra work. He's there more than any other Cardinals hitter -- before, during and after games. Pham said he took 300 swings Tuesday, many with a personally-designed "hitting contraption" that consists of a resistance band attached to his bat.
Pham swings with the contraption during batting practice, the idea being to over-simulate his preferred bat path and the power needed to drive the barrel through the zone. While he was in the cage during the third inning, the band slipped. Pham's bat hit the band, ricocheted upward and collided with his head.
Pham said his disappointment stems from the fact that he'd been seeing positive results over the past two games, when he's driven the ball to the middle of the field multiple times. He leads the Cardinals in several major offensive categories, including hitting (.343), on-base percentage (.471) and stolen bases (five).
"My swing has felt off all year, and mechanically, on video, it's not where I want," Pham said. "I've just been grinding. I've been trying to get on base by doing my best job at not swinging at bad pitches. As far as hitting the ball, I haven't been driving like I'm capable of, because my mechanics are not in the same hitting position as last year. I've created something that forces my body to get it into the position I want it to be in. From what I'm seeing on video, it's working. We're close to getting it where I want. It's just I had this little setback with this incident."