Fernando Tatis Jr. is back in the game with a bang…
The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, known as “El Niño“, wasted no time making his mark in his return from the San Diego Padres’ injured list on Sunday, hitting his 32nd and 33rd homers in an 8-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks while playing right field for the first time as a professional.
Tatis had one thought running through his mind as he returned to San Diego’s lineup.
“Make them remember why they missed you,” he said grinning.
The MLB All-Star — batting leadoff — ripped a double down the left-field line in his first at-bat but was stranded at third in the first inning. He added a solo homer in the third on a towering fly ball that landed in the left-field stands and another solo shot in the fifth that easily cleared the wall in approximately the same spot.
“Fernando being Fernando,” Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “It never ceases to amaze any of us.”
It was Tatis’ fifth multi-homer game this season and No. 8 for his career. He added a bases-loaded single in the eighth that brought home Victor Caratini and Trent Grisham.
Tatis also caught David Peralta‘s fly to right for the final out of the bottom of the first.
Tatis had been on the injured list since July 31 after partially dislocating his left shoulder for the third time this season.
The electrifying star usually plays shortstop, but the Padres decided to move him to the outfield for the time being. The hope is there’s less chance he’ll get hurt, allowing him to stay in the lineup for the rest of the season.
He wasn’t challenged much in the outfield on Sunday, but he made a few routine catches.
“It was pretty chill,” Tatis said.
Tatis suffered a partially dislocated left shoulder on a violent swing April 5 against the San Francisco Giants and went on the 10-day injured list. He reinjured the shoulder diving for a ball and left a game against the Cincinnati Reds on June 19 but missed only one game.
He left a spring training game after hurting the shoulder while making a throw but was back two days later. He revealed then that he had been dealing with shoulder discomfort since his minor league days. Tatis also missed eight games in mid-May after testing positive for COVID-19.
He became the first Padres player voted to start an All-Star Game since Tony Gwynn in 1999.
The return of Tatis is a huge boost for the Padres, who have 15 players on the injured list and have taken a nosedive in the National League West standings. They still occupy the second NL wild-card spot in the playoff race but are feeling pressure from the charging Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.