A hit is a hit, even if it’s only spring training. For Fernando Tatis Jr., it’s been a long time coming.
The San Diego Padres superstar had been 0 for 16 this spring before hitting a smash shot off the glove of Chicago White Sox shortstop Erik Gonzalez for a single in the first inning Saturday at Peoria, Arizona. The hit came against former teammate Mike Clevinger. Tatis later added a two-run double.
They were the first hits in 526 days for Tatis, who missed all of last season. He was on the cusp of returning from surgery on his left wrist when he was suspended for 80 games by major league baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
“I remember how to hit,” Tatis told reporters. “It’s definitely clicking, feeling great.”
Manager Bob Melvin said he was never worried about Tatis.
“All he needed to do was get a good swing. It’s going to be off to the races,” the manager said.
Tatis isn’t eligible to return to the active roster until April 20. When he comes back, he’ll be in right field. The Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a $280 million, 11-year contract in December.
Until Saturday, Tatis’ last hit was on Oct. 2, 2021, against the San Francisco Giants.
After his suspension, Tatis had surgery on his troublesome left shoulder. When he returns to the active roster, he’ll join fellow superstars Bogaerts, Manny Machado and Juan Soto in a potent lineup.
Outfielder Corbin Carroll and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to an eight-year deal with a club option for the 2031 season, the team announced. The contract is worth $111 million, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition on anonymity because the financial terms weren’t announced. MLB.com first reported the deal.
The 22-year-old Carroll is one of baseball’s top prospects and among the betting favorites — according to FanDuel Sportsbook — to win Rookie of the Year this season. Carroll was very good in a late-season cameo last season, batting .260 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 32 games.
The Diamondbacks aren’t historically a big-spending team but were willing to pay to make Carroll a franchise cornerstone. The soft-spoken speedster is a Seattle native.
He’s part of a young core of D-backs players, including outfielders Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, catcher Gabriel Moreno and pitchers Brandon Pfaadt, Drey Jameson and Tommy Henry. Arizona finished with a 74-88 record last season.
St. Louis Cardinals rookie outfielder Jordan Walker, one of the sensations of spring training, left the game against the Houston Astros with a strained right shoulder suffered on a slide at second base in the first inning.
But manager Oliver Marmol said he was not “overly concerned. Day to day.”
Marmol said he hadn’t intended to play Walker on Sunday anyway and that Monday is a scheduled off day for the team. Walker will be re-evaluated Sunday but it seems he will be able to play later in the week.
Before Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Houston, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Walker led the Grapefruit League in hits (14), batting average (.438), slugging percentage, OPS, total bases and extra-base hits.
“There was no reason for him to keep going and get it more fatigued,” said Marmol. “If it was up to him, he’d keep going but there was no reason to continue.”
SONG SHUT DOWN
The Philadelphia Phillies are shutting down 25-year-old right-hander Noah Song for a few days because of back tightness. He had an MRI on Friday.
“It’s just something that happens, I guess,” Song told reporters. “It kind of came on gradually, I guess, a couple days ago. It’s just something that they wanted to be very cautious of and aware of. We’re just going to monitor it as time goes on.”
The Phillies selected song in the Rule 5 Draft and he must spend at least 90 days on the active roster to stay with the organization beyond this season. Song appears headed to the injured list because the Phillies said he won’t be ready to pitch by opening day.
Song had been a flight officer training on a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in northeast Florida before the Navy granted a transfer from active duty to reserves. That decision allowed him the chance to try and regain the skills that were impressive during his only pro season in 2019 when he made seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate, striking out 19 in 17 innings with a 1.06 ERA. With a fastball in the upper 90s mph, he went 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings during his senior year at Navy.
Catcher Keibert Ruiz agreed to an eight-year contract with the Washington Nationals, reportedly for $50 million. The contract begins this year and runs through the 2030 season, with club options for the 2031 and 2032 seasons.
Ruiz was part of the trade deadline deal in 2021 that sent Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers. He is entering his fourth big league season.
Aroldis Chapman looked like his old self, even if it’s only halfway through spring training.
The veteran reliever pitched one inning for the Kansas City Royals against the Milwaukee Brewers in Phoenix and struck out all three batters he faced on fastballs — minor leaguer Eric Brown Jr. (100 mph), Christian Yelich (101) and Mike Brosseau (102).
Chapman, 34, had the worst season of his career last year with a 4.46 ERA in his final season with the New York Yankees, making most of his news off the field. He was sidelined late in the season with a leg infection caused by a tattoo, then when recovered, he failed to show up for a workout before the Yankees’ division series against Cleveland and was left off the roster.
He went through the winter without a deal before finally signing for one year with Kansas City at $3.75 million. But before he could get to the mound, he injured himself in a fall in his home, cracking a tooth and splitting his lip.
On Saturday, he looked none the worse for wear. He also has a history with Brosseau.
Brosseau, then with Tampa Bay, homered off Chapman for the winning hit in the deciding game of the 2020 AL Division Series against the Yankees a month after Chapman buzzed him with a fastball, just missing Brosseau’s head. The Rays went on to reach the World Series.
New Royals manager Matt Quatraro was the bench coach for the Rays back then.
“That was an incredible outing,” Quatraro said of Saturday’s performance. “It was like 11 pitches. A great outing right there for sure.”
AP Sports Writer David Brandt and AP freelance writers Jack Thompson and Rick Hummel contributed to this report.
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