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Fernando Tatis Jr. kicked off his 2023 redemption tour, meeting with the media and those willing to give him a second chance at the Padres FanFest on Saturday.
The Padres are hoping Tatis’ contrite ways are a positive sign. They’re still on the hook for $324 million over 12 years with their star, and star-crossed, player.
“It’s going to be a very long process to gain everybody’s trust,’’ Tatis said.
Tatis still has 20 contests to serve for violating MLB’s substance-abuse policy, a mistake that came with an 80-game suspension. That news last summer arrived on the heels of Tatis skipping the first half of the year after suffering an offseason wrist injury.
“I’m not looking forward to missing any more,’’ Tatis said before a gathering a reporters at Petco Park. “It just feels great to be out there again.’’
Tatis, who also had his left shoulder surgically repaired during his hiatus, is a full-go for baseball activities. He’s scheduled to be a full go at training camp later this month, before he has to downshift again to serve the remainder of his penalty.
Just where Tatis will fit with the the talent-loaded Padres is a question that remains to be answered.
“I’ve got 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 supplied a steady consistency that Tatis couldn’t provide.
Then San Diego acquired free-agent Xander Bogaerts in the offseason with an 11-year, $280 million contract, swelling its payroll to a franchise-high $240 million.
Bogaerts is expected to settle in at shortstop with Kim shifting to second base, which pushes Jake Cronenworth to first base.
The 24-year-old Tatis?
He figures to land a corner outfield spot, with All-Star Juan Soto taking the other one.
“Whatever it takes, I’ll do it,’’ Tatis said.
Just what Tatis will deliver is to be determined, considering he last played in 2021 and he has undergone two wrist surgeries and a shoulder operation over that time.
There’s little doubt 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 with Tatis unavailable. Watching, and not being able to participate in that postseason run, is was Tatis said fuels him.
“I just want to prove myself in the field,’’ said Tatis, who’s twice been a top-five finalist for the NL MVP award. “Just get back to the field with my boys.’’