Fernando Tatis, Jr. torching minor league pitchers during rehab stint

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If two games against the Albuquerque Isotopes at Southwest University Park are any indication, San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis, Jr. is ready to return to Major League Baseball.

On Thursday and Saturday during his rehab assignment with the El Paso Chihuahuas, Tatis went a combined 9-for-11 with five home runs and 11 RBI. At one point, he had a hit in eight straight at-bats.

Tatis Jr. played on a road trip to Sacramento, where he hit one homer with the team, and then a six-game home stand against Albuquerque much to the satisfaction of El Paso fans. The six-game series began last Tuesday and wrapped up Sunday.

Tatis Jr., who was a National League All-Star in 2021 and the first shortstop in MLB history to win multiple Silver Slugger Awards before the age of 23, hit three home runs on Thursday and two more on Saturday.

Tatis didn’t get the best reception in Sacramento, hearing a few boos that are expected to follow him in opposing parks as he completes an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, but while in El Paso he was in the friendly confines of SWUP.

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Fans cheered him the loudest when his name was called and he also played a solid right field for the Chihuahuas, a change for him as he played shortstop before the suspension.

‘He’s worked hard since he’s been with us and he’s really putting in the time to do what he has to get ready for his return to San Diego,’ Chihuahuas manager Philip Wellman said.

Wellman managed Tatis Jr. with Double-A San Antonio in 2017 and 2018 before Tatis jumped past El Paso to San Diego and the big leagues, and since then Tatis Jr. has asked to do his rehab assignments with Wellman and hitting coach Raul Padron.

‘Fernando has been patient and to see what he’s done is impressive considering he didn’t have live at-bats for many months,’ Wellman said.

Tatis, Jr., who is the son of former MLB player Fernando Tatis, is eligible to return to the majors on April 20.

‘He’s a good guy, he hangs out with us and he’s really put in the time to be the best he can,’ Chihuahuas reliever Jake Sanchez said. ‘He’s such a great player. The three home runs he hit on Thursday was amazing. We asked if that was the first time he did that and he said ‘no’.’

Tatis finished his time on a solid note on Sunday, going 2-for-5 with a home run to left field in his first at-bat of the day and a single later in the game.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY