PHOENIX – New position, with the same result.
Fernando Tatis Jr. made his mark immediately after being taken off the disabled list Sunday for the Padres against the Diamondbacks. And the Dominican showed his face at a crucial moment for San Diego.
Playing right field for the first time in his professional career, Tatis hit two home runs off Arizona starter Zac Gallen to lead the Padres to a 8-2 win at Chase Field. The star was 5-for-4 in the game with four RBIs and three runs, helping the “Frailes” avoid a four-game sweep in the desert.
“You have to make people remember why you were missed,” said Tatis. “I think so. It felt bad the hunger to be out and do nothing for my team for so long. So you go back and bring your 100% to do what you know how to do ”.
The Padres hold a 2.5 game lead for the second NL Wild Card.
“(Tatis) has that personality that boys gravitate to. Obviously, it’s a great thing to have him back, ”Padres manager Jayce Tingler said.
Tatis missed 15 days, due to a partially dislocated left shoulder, but his swing was unaffected. He started Sunday’s game with a double and in the third inning, he hit a 416-foot solo home run. In the fifth inning, he hit another clean-base homer, this time from 382 feet, to reach 33 for the season — the NL leading.
“Fernando being Fernando never ceases to amaze any of us,” said Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. “That thing about getting out of IL and not missing a beat, starting to walk in the first inning and doing what he does.”
On defense, Tatis caught the first fly ball connected to the right field, an easy hit by Venezuelan David Peralta. In total, the Dominican caught three flies in his seven innings, before Wil Myers replaced him.
Tatis described the new position as “chill” (all quiet) and already looks comfortable in the gardens. However, there are chances that the youngster will return to his natural shortstop position. Also, he could be seen in center and left field at some point.
“It’s not like I go to the outfield permanently or anything like that,” Padres general manager AJ Preller said over the weekend. “What we have talked to him is that it will be a combination of having him in the lineup and how he will fit in with our club.”
Sure, Tatis’s bat was needed more in San Diego than the glove. In his absence, the Padres hit just nine home runs, 27th among the 30 major league teams.
San Diego has a three-game series against the Rockies starting Monday in Colorado, followed by three games against the Phillies in San Diego. Then, the Dodgers will arrive at Petco Park beginning August 24.
“We are going to react as a team,” Tatis said. “I am totally confident in this team. This is baseball. It goes up and down. You have to find a way to handle that wave. “