Padres Notes: Pham gets the eye, lenses checked; Tatis works at shortstop


Tommy Pham is grateful that Padres manager Jayce Tingler stayed with him in the front row despite his recent struggles at plate.

“I respect that a lot,” Pham said.

But he knows he has to reciprocate.

“I have to do better,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I have to play better. I have to perform better. Since July, I haven’t played.

Pham, who was in a 2v25 skid before Thursday’s game, came out shortly after uttering the words and started the first inning with a double and scored on Adam Frazier’s triple. Pham added a brace in the fifth inning.

Pham could see the ball well.

Or relatively well.

There are few players who work as diligently as Pham before games. He hits balls in the outfield as much as anyone and takes more swings on the field than anyone. He participates in virtually every live batting practice started by a pitcher.

And this season, especially in recent weeks, added to his frenzied pre-game regimen are regular returns to dugout between swings in the cage to try out different contact lenses.

“I never treated my vision like this,” he said. “In the past I have received a pair of lenses and am good to go. There might have been a tweak or two in a season, but never like that. “

Pham suffers from keratoconus, a condition affecting the cornea that causes blurred vision and sensitivity to glare.

Friday morning, Pham took a private flight to see his ophthalmologist in Las Vegas. He said he had learned that he needed a different type of lens for his left eye and had been “over-prescribed”. He is trying to rectify these problems.

Pham has been more dazzling than ever this season. He was defeating .189 with a .611 OPS on May 25, 46 games in the season. Over the next 33 games, he hit 0.353 with an OPS of 1.053. As of July 2, he has reached .205 with a .610 OPS in 33 games.

In this most recent stretch, there have been other things that point to a deeper struggle to see the ball. In the last 33 games, he has a strikeout rate of 26.4% and a walk rate of 8.6%, both well below his career average. He’s also chasing shots out of the crease a little more frequently, and it’s worse in some hitters. In addition, he allows an unusual number of good throws to pass without swaying.

“I don’t hit a lot,” Pham said. “It’s frustrating. Not walking and hitting is not a good combination. I hunt more. I don’t hunt. There are terrains I swing on and I would never swing.”

Pham still has a .351 based percentage this season, but it’s 18 points below his career mark this season. His .400 shot percentage is 63 points lower than his career mark.

Pham has a career 0.836 OPS in the last two months of the season. That includes a September mark of .910.

“It was terrible,” he said. “Normally in August and September I tear it up. I have time to turn around.

Notable

  • The Padres are still waiting to see how starting pitcher Yu Darvish reacts to the treatment after leaving Thursday’s game in the third inning with low back strain. It was still tight Friday morning. Darvish faced a similar problem after at least one game earlier this season and hasn’t missed a start. His stint on the injured list was for an unrelated hip problem.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. worked only on the shortstop on Friday afternoon, although the Padres say he could still see some time in the outfield when he returned. Tatis is expected to be live on Saturday, possibly at the Peoria Sports Complex, and be activated later today or Sunday. Tatis was put on the injured list on July 31 after dislocating his left shoulder for the third time this season and the fifth time since mid-March.


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