In the midst of a four-game losing streak and with their hold on a playoff spot waning, the Padres took the drastic step of moving MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. to right field on Sunday, his first game in two weeks after a stint on the injured list with a shoulder injury. It didn't take long for the move to look ingenious.
Tatis tallied extra-base hits in his first three plate appearances, including leadoff home runs in the third and fifth innings. He's made three trips to the IL this season, and he's hit a home run in his first game since getting activated all three times.
Between 230 big-league games and 276 more in the minor leagues, Tatis had never appeared in the outfield before. The decision to shift him to right field stems from a desire to reduce the risk of injury to his left shoulder, as fewer balls will be hit his way and the belief is there will be less likelihood for him to have to make diving plays.
While Tatis has never patrolled the outfield as a professional, it won't be his first time venturing to that part of the field.
“I always played outfield since I was a kid,” Tatis said, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “I’ve got no doubt I could do it. Being able to play the game at different parts has always been on my checklist.’’
Thus far, the new defensive responsibilities have clearly not had an impact on his hitting.
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