Pham talks breakout, vision in Q&A

March 30th, 2018

What a year Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham had in 2017. In only 128 games, Pham became the first member of the Cardinals to record 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season since Reggie Sanders in '04. Pham also was one of just seven MLB players to record a .300 batting average, a .400 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage last season.
A few hours before Opening Day against the Mets, caught up with Pham to discuss both last season and what the future holds for the Cards' rising star. Can you believe the season you had last year?
Tommy Pham: Yes, I can believe the year I had, because it's everything I thought I could do. I was just consistent all the way around -- defensively, offensively. I managed to get on base, cut down my strikeouts. I drove the ball a little bit. I was able to do everything I wanted. There is still room for improvement. I would say I did a better job helping the pitchers out whenever I could. Who helped you have a great season?
Pham: Just mainly the opportunity, because, last year, I was able to get two months of consistent playing time before everyone was back [from injuries] and ready. By the time everyone was back -- and the team saw what I did -- it was hard to take me out of the lineup. How did you manage to have such a great season despite having keratoconus, a rare vision disorder?
Pham: I had the right corrective lenses to allow me to play at a high level. I'm constantly eye-checking myself, only because I have to play. When I don't play, I don't wear my lenses. You credit Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow -- who had previously been in the Cardinals' front office -- for getting your vision corrected. How did that happen?
Pham: When I was first diagnosed with my condition, he set it up to get tested. He just always believed I was too good of an athlete to struggle in this game. [After 2007], I hit a lot of home runs, but I struck out a lot, and Jeff thought it was my vision rather than my actual swing. ... sure enough, he was right. A big thanks to Jeff. Do you talk to Luhnow often?
Pham: I don't see him often. But I did see him last year on the back fields before we played Houston during Spring Training. I told him I was struggling. He wanted to congratulate me for what I overcame. He told me I should get my vision checked again, because I'm too good to struggle in this game. I got my vision checked before Spring Training ended, and he was right. Fair or unfair, you struggled this past Spring Training and the media mentioned your vision problems. How do you feel about it?
Pham: People struggle in this game. If anything, I was looking at my mechanics before my vision. My mechanics were not there quite yet. It's getting better. It wasn't there at the moment. When I'm struggling, people are going [to question my vision]. They don't know anything about me. I use my own doctors. I don't even go through the team. The only people that know about me is me and my eye doctor. What improvements would you like to make this year?
Pham: I would like to be consistent again and play more games. If I could get out on the field 150-plus games, that means I'm very consistent and I'm helping the team win. The National League Central is a tough division. How tough are the Cardinals?
Pham: I think we have a great underrated team, but you have to go out there and execute. That's the tough part about this game. It's going out there and executing consistently. There are a lot of great teams -- not only in the league, but in our division. It's going to be a dogfight for us. But we have an unknown potential, unknown talent. If we go out there and we focus on getting better every day -- focus on the task at hand -- we are going to be good.