Pham Starts, More From Fowler

(Busch Stadium) As expected, the St. Louis Cardinals are starting Tommy Pham in centerfield today and Dexter Fowler will be available off the bench after returning yesterday from the disabled list.

“Knew that going in, that he’d probably need a day,” said Matheny of the plan to rest Fowler. “Kind of a day game, but sure we’ll get him back in there tomorrow. Looked good yesterday.”

“A lot,” acknowledged Fowler. “Obviously, I can’t run like I want to. Obviously, the stolen bases and stuff are down. You’ve got to pick your spots to go.”

Last night, Fowler stated that he had come to St. Louis to play centerfield. He elaborated today that moving to a corner spot in the outfield would not necessarily be a benefit with his heel issue.

“I don’t think so,” said Fowler. “I almost tore my lat, so I’ve been banged up. I’ve been playing banged up a lot. To be healthy, I think I’ll be fine. I’m comfortable in centerfield and that’s where I need to be.”

The lat is okay now, but then came the heel issue, and there was also the quad injury–not exactly what Fowler planned on after signing a new contract with a new team.

“Probably some ignorance on my part to just keep playing,” he admitted. “Obviously, I want to be out there. But like I said, you’ve got to listen to your body. I probably could’ve been on the DL with this, could’ve probably been on the DL with all of this. I ended up playing through it and obviously some of my production as suffered, but at the end of the day that’s just the kind of guy I am. When I need to bow out, I’ve got to bow out.”

“They all want to play,” said Matheny. “If they don’t, they probably won’t stick around here very long. That’s part of the demand of this game. If you’re not a guy that doesn’t push through times when you don’t feel like it, the game has a way of kind of sifting you out. Yeah, he wants to play. We try to pick him up when we see that things don’t look quite right, call it out, and when we get the opportunity give him a day.”

In Fowler, Pham, and Randal Grichuk the Cardinals have three centerfielders–which has already made a positive difference as Dexter has played through his injuries.

“Yeah, they’ve helped me out a ton,” he said. “They’ve helped me out a ton. They know when I’m banged up. Obviously, I couldn’t really throw the ball too much with my lat and they know my heel’s banged up. So they’ve helped me out a lot.”

When Fowler’s sentiment about staying in centerfield was raised to Matheny, the manager said “okay” but chose not to further engage in what could be a touchy situation after the All-Star break, when the Cardinals may regroup in that regard.

–Though he is not scheduled to make another start before the All-Star break, Mike Leake will not be available out of the bullpen today. Matheny also shared the team is waiting until after these last two games before setting their rotation for the second half of the season.

–After collecting a pair of hits in six at-bats during his first two rehab assignment games in Springfield (AA), Kolten Wong had a scheduled off-day last night. He is expected to play in four of five games.

Meanwhile, Kevin Siegrist started his rehab assignment with Springfield and allowed one hit and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning of work. With Memphis (AAA), Zach Duke also threw a scoreless inning in his rehab stint.

“Both of them felt good afterwards, so that’s positive news on both fronts,” said Matheny.

photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports, Bill Greenblatt/UPI

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