Pham wrap: Cards' OF set for rehab stint

Pham wrap: Cards' OF set for rehab stint

ST. LOUIS -- Tommy Pham will bat leadoff and play center field for Memphis on Wednesday as he begins his Minor League rehab assignment with the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate.

Pham, who suffered a left oblique strain on Opening Day, left for Memphis after taking two days of on-field batting practice without issue. The Cardinals have not publically indicated how long they expect the rehab assignment to last, though Pham, before he departed, estimated that he would need about 20 at-bats.

Pham went 1-for-2 with a two-run single for Memphis, adding a walk and a stolen base.

With an extensive injury history, Pham has previously been quite cautious when working through the rehab process.

"We saw that last year in Spring Training when he got hurt," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny noted. "It looked like he was real close, but he said, 'Hey, I can find fifth gear, but there's a sixth.' For him to find sixth gear took a little more time. So we're going to have to wait and see how he finds that gear to where he feels like he's ready."

The Cardinals will have a complicated roster decision to make when Pham is ready to return. It was Aledmys Diaz who took his spot on the roster one month ago, but Diaz, who ranks second in the National League with a .388 average and .700 slugging percentage, isn't going anywhere now.

That means either Ruben Tejada or Jeremy Hazelbaker will be squeezed out of a spot. The Cardinals will factor in offensive potential and defensive need into that decision.

WORTH NOTING:

Yadier Molina made his fifth career start at first base on Wednesday and his first since Sept. 20, 2014. Matheny views a start at first base as a semi day off for Molina because he won't have to endure the same defensive stress as he normally would behind the plate.

• The Cardinals selected Double-A Springfield's Harrison Bader and Andrew Morales as the organization's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively, for their April performances. Bader, a third-round pick in 2015 MLB Draft, hit .388 with a .397 on-base percentage, five homers and 13 RBIs in 20 games. Morales, a second-rounder from the 2014 MLB Draft, went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA and 22 strikeouts in four starts.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.