Fernando Tatis feeling better, could return soon to Padres lineup

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was feeling better a day after coming out of a game due to left shoulder discomfort, leaving the San Diego Padres and their fans breathing easier.

“He’s feeling really good today. In fact he was lobbying to get in the lineup today, so I thought that was very encouraging,” manager Jayce Tingler said Wednesday during a videoconference from Peoria, Arizona.

“He’s going to have a good work day today and we’ll kind of see where it goes. I think everybody’s kind of expecting him to be back in the lineup in the next day or two. Very encouraging news,” he said.

The sight of the electrifying 22-year-old suddenly leaving Tuesday’s game after making a backhanded play was a jolt to the Padres, who have high expectations for this season coming off San Diego’s first playoff appearance in 14 years. Tatis has quickly become one of the faces of baseball, and last month he signed the longest deal in major league history, for 14 years and $340 million.

Tatis fielded the ball hit by Cincinnati’s Jonathan India, made a one-hop throw to first base and then began walking off the field. He was met by Tingler and a trainer. After a few minutes in the dugout, Tatis headed toward the clubhouse accompanied by a trainer.

“He felt it during the reach coming across right there,” Tingler said. “I don’t know if it was a little bit of a stinger or what the deal was but just had a little bit of shock right there.”

Tingler said after Tuesday’s game that Tatis has been dealing with a minor shoulder issue for a few years.

The manager said Wednesday that the Padres need to stay on top of the situation.

“I’m proud of the fact that `Tati’ said something. Realistically, if we’re in-season, he probably doesn’t say anything and he continues to play through it,” Tingler said.

“Right now he’s being very mature, very responsible, understands the timeline of where we’re at. I think it’s good for him to say something right now and it’s just something as a group – coaches, trainers, strength coaches – we’ve got to be on top of and continue to monitor and make sure we’re doing all our exercises to maintain a strong, healthy shoulder,” he said.

Tingler doesn’t know when Tatis first encountered the shoulder issue and didn’t know the medical term for it.

“Right now it just kind of pinched reaching for the ball. As far as has it been looked at? Of course it’s been looked at. Obviously he just did a very nice deal and we’re very thorough with those things. Look, there are no surprises here.”

Tatis is hitting .391 in 10 exhibition games, but it hasn’t been a smooth spring for him. He missed time with flu-like symptoms and then jarred himself after diving headfirst into home on a flyball to shallow left field in a game on March 13. That slide might have aggravated the shoulder issue, and it kept him out of several games.

Tatis has bloomed into a superstar despite not yet having played the equivalent of a full 162-game season. A hamstring injury and a stress reaction in his lower back limited him to 84 games during his rookie season of 2019, and last season was shortened to 60 games due to the pandemic. Tatis has played in 143 games, hitting .301 with 39 homers and 98 RBIs.

Tatis has endeared himself to fans with his hard-charging style of play, both defensively and especially on the basepaths. He’s vowed not to change, and the Padres don’t want him to change, either.

“I think it’s just something we’ve got to be ultra-aware,” Tingler said. “Yesterday was on a backhand. He’s going to play his game. The best thing is just continuing to talk to him about, when we get a chance to go feet first vs. headfirst, and sometimes just plays happen naturally. But as much as we can, to keep him sliding feet first instead of headfirst, that can be something to help him maintain it.

“I think the most important thing is being incredibly disciplined with the treatment and making sure you’re doing all the shoulder exercises to strengthen all the small muscles around the shoulder to make sure it’s as mobile and strong as possible.”

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”