Tommy Pham had a chance to become the first player in Major League Baseball history to go 5-for-5 in a World Series game late in the Diamondbacks’ 9-1 romp over the Texas Rangers on Saturday in Game 2 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Instead, DBacks manager Torey Lovullo had longtime journeyman Jace Peterson pinch hit for the fiery outfielder, at Pham’s request.
“I asked Torey can Jace hit for me,” Pham wrote on Instagram after the game, replying to a baseball fan account with hundreds of thousands of followers. “I wanted my dawg to get his first World Series at bat stop this narrative please.”
Pham, 35, was in the mood to clear the air and went into detail in the DBacks’ clubhouse Sunday about his contentious meeting with Lovullo during the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pham was benched for Game 5, with the series tied at two games apiece, because the outfielder and designated hitter was battling turf toe and stuck in a 1-for-13 rut through the first four games.
Pavin Smith replaced him in the lineup but went 0-for-4.
“He didn’t think I could get the job done,” Pham said, recounting his conversation with Lovullo. “It’s up to me, as a player, to instill confidence in my manager and in my coaches so that when a situation presents itself again, they’re confident in me to do the job. So I have to do a better job, as a player, instilling that confidence in everyone in the room, from my teammates to my coaches.”
Pham returned to the lineup as designated hitter in Game 6 and hit a solo home run off Phillies starter Aaron Nola in the second inning.
He also clubbed a solo home run in Game 1 of the World Series, before his breakout performance in Game 2.
“It wasn’t pretty on my end. I didn’t feel like it was pretty,” Pham said about the conversation with Lovullo. “But it was healthy. Because the best way to get over anything is to hash it out or talk it through, man to man, and he was able to understand my perspective on it and I was able to understand his perspective a little bit better.
“At the end of the day, in the playoffs, you want every at-bat, you want to play every inning, you want to catch the last out. That’s just as a competitor.”
He didn’t think the day off for Game 5 of the NLCS helped.
“Hell naw. It wouldn’t have mattered,” Pham said.
Pham was a trade deadline acquisition from the New York Mets in August.
The Diamondbacks are his seventh team in 10 years.
“I’ve been playing against Tommy for a while now and he’s a hard guy to get a read on when you’re across the field,” DBacks first baseman Christian Walker said. “But my time getting to know him has been, it’s all A-plus. He’s a great teammate. He’s calculated, he’s experienced, he’s polished. I’ve learned a lot.”
Walker acknowledged he can be “pretty blunt.”
“Which is refreshing, right?” Walker said. “A lot of people dance around the truth these days and Tommy’s not that guy. But it’s been great and I’ve truly enjoyed my time around him.”
Pham also discussed his initial conversation with DBacks general manager Mike Hazen when he first arrived in Phoenix.
“They told me I was going to play every day and I was going to bat in the middle of the lineup.” Pham said. “Mike was like, ‘We believe we have a playoff team here. We’re just missing a piece or two.’ And he was like, ‘We think you’re that piece.’
“And I’m looking around in the locker room like, ‘Really?’ And he was right. I wish I had their vision, because I could probably make a whole lot more money gambling. But this has been pretty amazing.”
Pham’s conversation last week with Lovullo was markedly different.
But he said he didn’t leave the meeting with a chip on his shoulder.
“No, it was nothing like that,” Pham said. “It was just like, ‘OK, I just need to be better.’ That’s just the honest truth.”
Coming into Game 2 against the Rangers, Pham had been hitting just .213 this postseason.
He went 4-for-4 on Saturday, hitting a pair of doubles and singles, and scored twice before stepping aside in the ninth inning for Peterson as the DBacks unleashed a parade of 16 hits.
“I knew he was 4-for-4,” Lovullo said. “I didn’t know that nobody in the history of Major League Baseball had ever gone 5-for-5. That’s why I asked him, ‘Are you sure you want this to happen? Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘I need my boy to get an at-bat in the World Series. He’ll remember this for the rest of his life.’ He was like, ‘You may or may not use him in another role, but right now I want to step aside for him.’”
Peterson, acquired from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline, was not on the DBacks’ NLCS roster but was added for the World Series, providing a left-handed bat off the bench.
He reached base in the ninth inning of Game 2 on a fielder’s choice and scored to increase the DBacks’ lead to 9-1.
“The way he goes about his work, the way he treats his teammates, it’s pretty special,” Peterson said about Pham, who dresses at the locker beside him in the DBacks clubhouse. “He’s a great teammate, a great player, a leader. The way he goes about it, any team would be lucky to have him.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: DBacks’ Pham on Lovullo: ‘He didn’t think I could get the job done’
Source: Yahoo Sports