Tommy Pham moves into yet another rehab cycle

Springfield outfielder Tommy Pham has to recover from surgery again, this time on his shoulder.

Given Tommy Pham is barely two weeks removed from shoulder surgery, some disappointment is understandable. The 24-year-old went under the knife on Thursday, April 26 in St. Louis and won't be seen again on a baseball field until 2013.

Pham's most recent problems began on a back field at the Cardinals Jupiter, Fla. complex on March 22. Making an attempt at a diving catch in a spring training game, the outfielder injured his shoulder. At first, it was only thought to be a stinger and after a short period of rest, the right-handed batter began regular season play as Springfield's designated hitter.

It didn't go as expected at the plate for a hitter who had traditionally been a fast starter and was doing well in Florida pre-injury. Pham batted just .154 with three extra-base hits in his first 43 Texas League plate appearances this season.

"I didn't feel strong when hitting," Pham admitted. "I couldn't get my hands up. I am anxious to see film that coach Wellman (Springfield hitting coach Phil Wellman) is putting together for me so I can tell for sure."

It turns out that Pham dislocated his shoulder in the spring training incident and incurred ligament damage when it was put back into place. Ultimately, surgery was required for a torn labrum, a procedure conducted by Cardinals team physician Dr. George Paletta. That injury has been known to derail more than one pitcher's career.

Pham's right arm is currently in a sling. He can't yet run or lift weights, two things he would very much like to do. The stationary bike is about all that is allowed - along with encouraging the younger players competing in extended spring training. Even after the others leave camp for their short-season clubs, our 23rd-ranked Cardinals prospect will remain in Jupiter, continuing his long rehab program.

Last season during his recovery from a wrist injury, Pham was able to work on his outfield defense, shagging flies. Even that is off limits now.

Speaking of his wrist, Pham noted that he is still getting it "looked at" regularly due to the severity of his 2011 injury. It was the result of his wrist coming into contact with the top of a chain link fence beyond the outfield wall at Hammons Field as he tried to make a home-run-robbing catch.

His keratoconus is now under control as it was treated during the off-season, the outfielder explained. The degenerative eye disease characterized by a bulging cornea had previously contributed to his disabled list time, especially in 2010.

The bottom line is that time continues to march on without Pham on the field. The former shortstop undoubtedly has the talent, but has yet been unable to compete over a full summer schedule.

As the injuries mount, Pham's regular-season games-played total has dropped from a career-best 114 in 2009 to 106 the next year to just 40 last season. His 2012 season ended after just a dozen contests.

Understandably disappointed to endure yet another season-ending injury, Pham summarized his situation by stating, "Right now, I am immobile."

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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