San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has started his minor league rehab assignment as he looks to complete his 80-game performance-enhancing drug suspension, and the two-time Silver Slugger winner is already catching flak.
Playing in his second game with Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday, Tatis Jr. faced Sacramento pitcher Kade McClure.
Tatis Jr. hit a solo home run off of McClure and received boos from the Sacramento crowd as he rounded the bases.
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He caught more than just boos after the game from McClure.
Tatis Jr. was suspended by Major League Baseball on August 12, 2022, claiming he had “inadvertently” taken medication, in order to treat ringworm, that contained Clostebol, which is a banned substance.
The All-Star shortstop entered the 2023 season with 20 games remaining on his suspension, with Tatis Jr. eligible to return to the Padres on April 20th.
“It’s going to be one of the most emotional years, I feel like, in my career,” Tatis said of potentially being booed on the road, per ESPN. “I’m looking to embrace it.”
The Padres inked Tatis Jr. to a massive contract in 2021, agreeing to a 14-year, $340 million extension, but the shortstop did not appear in a single game in 2022 as he dealt with injuries before his suspension.
“I’ve really learned from what happened to me in the last year,” Tatis said in February. “I’m really looking forward to redeeming myself.”
Tatis Jr. is a career .292 hitter, launching a career-high 42 home runs in 2021.
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