SAN DIEGO -- On any given day under any normal circumstance, Tommy Pham appears to be a caged lion -- as if he has somewhere to be and you're keeping him from it and he can be bothered with you only for a short time before putting a hole in your person and running off to get something important accomplished.
So imagine this man during the 3 1/2 months of no baseball and then the period in which he had to quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Basically, he worked out and tried to keep himself from going crazy.
For this lion, baseball is his prey.
So it was Thursday night that he was driving near his downtown condominium when he saw the lights on at Petco Park and the gate open to Gallagher Square.
"I stopped because I saw the game going on," he said. "I'm still a fan of baseball. I play baseball, but I'm still a fan."
As he stood off to the side of the park's berm watching the game, an appearance that caused some to question why he was out in public when he had tested positive for COVID-19, it was clear even through the mask he was wearing that he deeply longed to be on a different patch of grass.
The next day, a week after summer camp started, he would join the Padres for an afternoon workout and then three at-bats as a designated hitter in Friday night's intrasquad game.
"I felt like a little kid back on the diamond," he said Saturday morning.
As for that foray into Gallagher Square that caused so much hand-wringing, as Pham signed autographs for those who approached him, Pham calmly explained Saturday he had been cleared by the city's health department July 4 to end his self-quarantine. He reiterated what he said Thursday night, as well -- that he had tested negative for COVID-19, tested positive for the presence of antibodies in his blood and passed cardiological examinations. He was, he said, just awaiting word on the second negative test required by MLB for his return to the field.