Fernando Tatis Jr kicked off his 2023 Redemption Tour and caught up with the media and those willing to give him a second chance at the Padres FanFest on Saturday.
The Padres hope Tatis’ contrite nature is a positive sign. They’re still on the hook for $324 million over 12 years with their star and star cross player.
“It will be a very long process to gain everyone’s trust,” said Tatis.
Tatis has 20 contests left for violating MLB’s substance abuse policy, a mistake that came with an 80-game suspension. That news came shortly after Tatis last summer, who skipped the first half of the year after suffering an off-season wrist injury.
“I’m not looking forward to missing any more,” Tatis told a gathering of reporters at Petco Park. “It just feels great to be back out there.”
Tatis, who also underwent surgery to repair his left shoulder during his hiatus, is a baseball thoroughbred. He is expected to be in training camp later this month before having to downshift to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
Where Tatis fits in with the talented Padres is a question yet to be answered.
“I need to talk to my manager (Bob Melvin),” Tatis said. “But I’m open.”
Tatis’ shortstop spot was filled by Ha-seong Kim last year, and he delivered a consistency Tatis couldn’t match.
Then, during the offseason, San Diego acquired free agent Xander Bogaerts on an 11-year, $280 million deal, taking his payroll to a franchise-high $240 million.
Bogaerts is expected to settle at shortstop with Kim moving to second base, pushing Jake Cronenworth to first base.
The 24-year-old Tatis?
He expects to land a corner spot in outfield while All-Star Juan Soto takes the other.
“Whatever it takes, I’ll do it,” Tatis said.
What Tatis will deliver is yet to be seen considering he last played in 2021 and has undergone two wrist surgeries and one shoulder surgery during that time.
There’s no doubt that Tatis had established himself as one of the game’s most exciting players, hitting 81 home runs and batting .292 in the two seasons prior to his absence.
The Padres advanced to last season’s National League Championship Series without Tatis being available. Watching and not being able to compete in this post-season run was Tati’s, he said, what drives him.
“I just want to prove myself on the field,” said Tatis, who has twice been in the top five finalists for the NL MVP award. “Just get back on the field with my boys.”