As you might have heard (unless you're in an Aaron Rodgers-type of darkness retreat), Fernando Tatis Jr. made his return to the San Diego Padres lineup on Thursday night. It was a moment that has been on the minds of Padres fans since the first whispers about the superstar's motorcycle accident and PED suspension started circulating.
After tearing up Triple-A pitching as he prepared for Thursday's return, plenty of people were looking at projections to see what the 24-year-old All-Star might do for the Padres lineup. However, Tatis went 0-for-5, putting a momentary muzzle on those who thought Tatis might smack homers against MLB pitchers as easily as he did in El Paso.
But for the Padres, the individual numbers put up by Tatis weren't as important as the energy he brought to the team and the jolt that he gave to what had been a mostly lifeless offense through the early part of the schedule.
San Diego Padres got much more out of Fernando Tatis Jr. than his individual statistics in his season debut
For a Padres team that needed something good to happen after scoring just two runs in their previous four games and losing six of their last eight contests, Tatis at the top of the order not only felt right, but also allowed Bob Melvin's lineup to be stretched even further. Xander Bogaerts and Trent Grisham were the stars of San Diego's 7-5 win on Thursday, and perhaps it was ironic that the duo, who had served as part of the Padres' leadoff options before the return of Tatis, did their damage from lower in the lineup in Arizona.
San Diego needed to rediscover its swagger, and the return of Tatis did just that. Sure, it was one game, but for a Padres team still trying to find its early footing, perhaps that one game can be a springboard toward the type of season fans and media members expected to see in San Diego in 2023.