GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — New Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham freely admits he’ll be playing with a big chip on his shoulder this season.
The 34-year-old free agent got a big league job less than two weeks before opening day, signing Saturday as the Reds try to fill a spot where a pair of All-Stars recently departed.
Right fielder Nick Castellanos signed last month with Philadelphia as a free agent and left fielder Jesse Winker was traded to Seattle.
“I am going to approach this season as a revenge tour. I’m playing to get my numbers, man. I’m being dead honest with you. There is nothing selfish about it. In the past I put up some really good seasons,” Pham said.
“I’m playing to get some numbers. I don’t care about anything else. I’m looking out for me. At the end of the day baseball is going to move on without me. I have to get mine right now,” he said.
The 34-year-old Pham is an eight-year veteran, spending the last two with the San Diego Padres. He hit .229 last year with 24 doubles, 15 homers, 49 RBIs, 74 runs and 14 stolen bases.
Pham is a career .265 hitter with 97 homers and 300 RBIs. His best season was 2017, when he hit .306 with 23 homers and 73 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals.
“You know, it’s easy to say my best years are behind me. Physically, I can still run. I have my athleticism when we tested it this offseason. I’m still expecting big things from myself. This is a year for me to prove it to myself as well,” he said.
Pham is expected to add speed and power to the Reds’ lineup in the outfield with Nick Senzel in center and Tyler Naquin in right.
“The Reds were one of the teams that called early. I actually think they called before the lockout, too. It is just how it all got drawn together,” he said.
“I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m going to be on these back fields a lot. I have to get my game right, offense, defense. Everyone in baseball pretty much got a two-week head start from me,” he said.
Reds manager David Bell said Pham “will be a big part of our lineup.” Pham gives Cincinnati a right-handed hitting outfielder who can hit left-handed pitching.
“He’s going to play a lot,” Bell said. “He is going to play left field. He’s another guy because of the DH will be part of that mix. Tommy Pham is an all-around player. We do have the DH this year so, again it just opens up that rotation.”
Pham said he saw a lot to like about joining the Reds.
“I looked at this team, the park, the manager. I have a great history with DB. I love him from my time in St. Louis,” he said. “I get to get with one of my hitting coaches, Joey Votto. I text him. He’s my hitting coach, man. I’m telling you guys. He helped me get my swing right. We talked hitting through the years.”
“I’m going to get the opportunity to play. I’m going to try to get mine,” he said.