ST. LOUIS -- Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk, the top-of-the-order tandem that helped anchor the Cardinals' 8-2 win over the Reds on Monday, both understand that they remain on the clock.If the Cards' expectation is accurate and William Fowler does return quickly from a right heel injury, the club is
ST. LOUIS -- Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk, the top-of-the-order tandem that helped anchor the Cardinals' 8-2 win over the Reds on Monday, both understand that they remain on the clock.
If the Cards' expectation is accurate and William Fowler does return quickly from a right heel injury, the club is unlikely to have starting opportunities available for outfielders Pham and Grichuk, both of whom have had their paths to St. Louis hindered by doses of adversity. Monday was a reminder that both offer intriguing (and unique) skill sets.
Pham set the tone with his feet, racing around the bases after a leadoff walk to give the Cardinals a run before they had a hit. It was the first of four consecutive plate appearances in which Pham reached, and he scored in three of them.
"We talk about his intensity. He just takes no pitches off, ever," manager Mike Matheny said. "That's definitely allowed him to improve to get to the point where he is right now. And we're just trying to keep him healthy and in a good spot to where he's seeing the ball."
Pham, who has battled a degenerative eye condition his entire career, has seized opportunities since being called up from Triple-A Memphis in early May. He's established new career highs in runs scored (31) and walks (21) after two seasons of being shuttled between St. Louis and Memphis, with stints on the disabled list in between.
"Right now, I'm still trying to elevate my game to prove to myself that I can be this player that I think I can be," Pham said. "I know what's up against me."
That, of course, would be the challenge of proving that his strong start can be sustained.
Pham also understands that past production is not a guarantee of future playing time. While his surge last month squeezed Grichuk off the 25-man roster, Pham knows the potential Grichuk has to nudge his way back into an everyday role.
Summoned from Memphis on Sunday, Grichuk has belted two home runs in as many days. He followed a two-hit game on Sunday with a two-hit, three-RBI showing on Monday, and he put the ball in play in all five of his plate appearances. He even showed a willingness to choke up on the bat with two strikes, something he hopes can help reduce his strikeout total.
Finding a better balance between hitting for power and making contact is the goal.
"Power is my game, and I need to hit for extra-base hits and hit for power to play," Grichuk said. "But hopefully, moving forward, I'm not just a one-dimensional hitter in the sense of strikeout or extra-base hit."
Both with plenty to prove, Pham and Grichuk will continue to play alongside one another as long as both stay hot and Fowler remains sidelined. It could end up being a simultaneous audition, too, for a club that may soon only have starting opportunities for one.
"Right now, I want them to just keep playing and not necessarily think about the jostling [for playing time]," Matheny said. "It's going to be about creatively figuring out how to keep all of them going. That will be something we will address when that time comes."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.