Padres fans who nearly fainted at the sickening sight of their $330 million-dollar baby grabbing his arm in pain during an a-bat can rest easy.
The 10 days on the IL earlier this month seemingly worked wonders for Fernando Tatis Jr., whom many feared was headed for surgery for what amounted to a minor dislocation and torn labrum in the shoulder of his non-throwing arm.
Not only did the flashy young shortstop go on a homer-hitting tear last week, he did it against the Dodgers, who have become San Diego’s official nemesis now that the Padres have considerably closed the talent gap between the two NL West contenders.
In a three-game weekend series against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, Tatis hit two home runs each on Friday and Saturday against Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer, respectively— making him the first player in MLB history to have multiple-homer games on consecutive days against former Cy Young Award winners.
He then slammed another four-bagger on Sunday night in a thrilling extra-inning win over L.A.
For the series, in which the Padres won two games, Tatis hit .500 (7-for-10), with 5 HR, 6 RBI and 8 runs scored. Overall last week, Tatis hit .385 with 10 hits — including five home runs and a double — 7 RBI, four walks and four stolen bases over seven games.
The performance earns Tatis LatinoBaseball.com‘s Player of the Week honors.
To top it all off, the 22-year-old became the first player in history with 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases over the first 162 games of his career.
Yet that wasn’t the highlight of his week — nor was it how his two-homer game on Friday came 22 years to the day of his father, Fernando Tatis Sr., hit two grand slams in one inning as a Cardinal (also at at Dodger Stadium) in 1999.
It was the attention Junior received when he mocked Bauer — hardly a shrinking violet himself — as he rounded the bases after one of his homers. Tatis put a hand over an eye in reference to Bauer boasting of how he sometimes pitched with one eye closed during spring training.
Tatis was also named the NL’s Player of the Week by MLB, sharing the honors with Colorado Rockies pitcher Madison Bumgarner.
Robert Dominguez is co-author of “Bronx Bummers: The Unofficial History of the New York Yankees’ Bad Boys, Blunders and Brawls” and writer of the upcoming “El Salón: The Trials and Triumphs of Baseball’s Latino Hall of Famers.”