"The doctor here basically told me that if I wasn't so muscular, I might be dead or paralyzed," Pham told reporters on Sunday (h/t Bob Nightengale of USA Today). "So I'm lucky to even be able to play. I thought I wasn't going to be able to play again."
The 32-year-old was stabbed in the lower back in the parking lot of a San Diego strip club, resulting in a wound that he said required 200 stitches to close.
No arrests have been made in the incident, though he sued Pacers Showgirls International for his "catastrophic injuries, which have and will continue to cause him significant economic damage, including but not limited to his earning capacity as an elite professional baseball player," while also noting that employees did not call for law enforcement.
Pham will take the field Sunday when the Padres open spring training with a game against the Seattle Mariners. He said he is about 80 percent recovered, and while he has been able to get some swings in this offseason, his back limited him with heavy weights, per Nightengale.
His return to the field comes at a pivotal time. Pham will become a free agent after this season, and he'll be fighting to prove himself after a hand injury kept him to 31 games in last year's pandemic-shortened season. He hit .211 with 12 RBI and three home runs in those outings.
"I know what I'm capable of bringing to the table with my speed and my athleticism," he said. "I know I'm being an above-average, elite player in the game."