Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. Delivers Opening Day Thrills

Fernando Tatis Jr. is ready to be the guy for the San Diego Padres however they need him. On Thursday, in front of the home fans at Petco Park, Tatis led the Padres to a come-from-behind 6-4 win over the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day.

Tatis finished 1-for-4 but his baserunning has manager Mike Shildt excited for the rest of the season. The Gold Glove-winning outfielder took his lead off first base and took off for second on a full-count pitch to Jake Cronenworth. Cronenworth hit a dribbler to the mound by the time Giants pitcher Logan Webb threw the ball to first, Tatis had rounded second and was easily sliding into third.

“That was sexy,” Shildt said. “That was fun baseball. I loved that.”

Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres hits a single in the sixth inning during an Opening Day game against the San Francisco Giants at PETCO Park on March 28, 2024, in San Diego….

Brandon Sloter/Getty Images

The wheels Tatis has on the bases weren’t used as much last season as he was bouncing back from a 2022 year plagued with injuries and a suspension.

“I’m working out a lot to make my body feel the right way, and it feels amazing right now,” Tatis said. “When I’m feeling that, a lot of stuff like what happened first to third is going to happen the rest of the year.”

With the 2022 season still in the back of his mind, Tatis is also playing with someone else in his heart. He stepped onto the field wearing cleats adorned with images of the Padres’ late chairman Peter Seidler and inscribed with four words that have stuck with Tatis since they left Seidler’s mouth.

When Tatis returned from his suspension after using performance-enhancing drugs, Seidler met with media members and told them that he believed in Tatis. Tatis chose the words “I believe in him” to be inscribed on his shoes with “I believe” on the right heel and “in him” on the left.

“Honoring Pete, I feel like they came out really well,” Tatis said after yesterday’s game. “… He’s part of our story. He’s part of my story. The guy was with me holding my back in my darkest moment and cheering me most when I was in the highest. Everything we’re doing this season is for Peter — and the years to come too.”

However, Tatis wasn’t the only person who felt Seidler’s presence at Petco Park. The team honored him before the game, Xander Bogaerts had the team’s first hit which landed in the heart with Seidler’s initials in center field and the Padres, who were just 6-59 in games in which they were trailing last season, felt like the baseball gods were on their side.

“I can feel his presence here today,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said early in the day. “He’s clearly with us in spirit. We’re gonna honor him today, of course, and he’ll be in our hearts all season.”