A San Francisco Giants minor leaguer called Fernando Tatis Jr. a “cheater” on Twitter after the suspended San Diego Padres superstar hit a mammoth home run Wednesday night in a Triple-A game while on a rehab assignment.
Kade McClure of the Sacramento River Cats responded to a tweet that included video of the homer at Sacramento’s Sutter Health Park by saying, “cheater hits a homerun on a rehab assignment during a steroid suspension.”
McClure deleted the tweet sometime Thursday afternoon. His tweet had received several responses from Padres fans defending Tatis and criticizing the pitcher’s high ERA.
Tatis is playing for the El Paso Chihuahuas on a rehab assignment while finishing the 80-game suspension he received Aug. 12 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He’ll be eligible to join the active roster on April 20.
Tatis was initially greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos after his homer off McClure, but the crowd mostly booed after he did his trademark stutter-step around third base.
At FanFest in February, Tatis said he has already dealt with negative fan reaction on the road during his career “and I’m definitely looking forward to that challenge” in what he said would be both a fun and emotional season.
The 24-year-old Tatis, one of the game’s most electrifying young players, missed all of last season. He was on the cusp of returning from left wrist surgery when he was suspended. He blamed his positive test on a cream he said he took for ringworm. He reportedly fractured his wrist in a motorbike accident in his native Dominican Republic in December 2021. The injury was diagnosed during his physical when he reported to spring training and he had surgery in March 2022.
A few weeks after the suspension was announced, Tatis had surgery on his troublesome left shoulder and also had a follow-up surgery on his left wrist.
An All-Star at shortstop in 2021 who has won two Silver Slugger Awards, Tatis will play right field when he’s activated. The Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a $280 million, 11-year free agent contract in early December. Tatis will join a lineup that also includes Manny Machado and Juan Soto. The Padres have World Series aspirations after reaching the NL Championship Series last year.
Tatis brought a swagger to the Padres in his first three seasons. He unleashed an emphatic bat flip after hitting his second home run in an 11-9 win in Game 2 of the wild-card series against the Cardinals in 2020 and a photo of Tatis in that moment was on the cover of the video game MLB The Show ’21. After homering against Trevor Bauer at Dodger Stadium in April 2021, Tatis briefly covered his right eye with his right hand after rounding first base to troll Bauer, who pitched with one eye closed in a bit of bravado that spring training. Tatis hit an NL-high 42 homers that season.
McClure, 27, is in his seventh minor league season. He is 0-0 with a 7.20 ERA. He is with his second organization.