SAN DIEGO — Fernando Tatis Jr. homered and went 4-for-4 in his first game back after testing positive for COVID-19, and the San Diego Padres beat the Colorado Rockies 3-0 on Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
Cleared to play by Major League Baseball late Wednesday morning, the star shortstop got to the ballpark about an hour before first pitch, took a few swings in the batting cage and then played for the first time in 10 days.
“Go to that jungle, boy, survive,” Tatis said.
He finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle and even did the splits after stealing second base, helping the Padres win their sixth straight game and ninth in 10 outings.
Tatis, who had been out since May 11, missed eight games. Forced to isolate at home, he said he was able to take just a few dry swings and went jogging one day. Otherwise, he said he did his best to stay mentally sharp.
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy,” the 22-year-old Tatis said. “I was even feeling like kind of weird at shortstop, like, ‘Damn, is something looking different or is it just me?’ It’s a thing when you’re far from the game, but here we are, healthy, thank God.”
Manager Jayce Tingler said what Tatis did Wednesday “is incredibly unique. I don’t know how to explain it. There’s not many that can kind of roll out and be able to do that.”
Tatis came up in the eighth needing a triple for the cycle and got his third extra-base hit of the game, an RBI double. He did a little dance after reaching the bag.
“It would have been great if we would have checked the cycle out of my things to do list, but we were a little short and it’s definitely something I’m looking to the future for,” Tatis said.
The Padres were 7-1 without Tatis, who was placed on the injured list before a game at Colorado on May 11. Right fielder Wil Myers and first baseman Eric Hosmer were pulled from that game, Myers after he returned a positive test and Hosmer due to contact tracing.
Tatis and Hosmer were activated before Wednesday’s game, and Myers is expected back this weekend. Jurickson Profar and Jorge Mateo, also placed in the contact tracing protocol on May 11, returned Monday night.
Tatis drove the first pitch he saw from Chi Chi Gonzalez to right-center field with two outs in the fourth for his 10th homer.
Tatis, batting cleanup for the first time in his three-year big league career, singled leading off the second and then stole second, doing the splits after sliding feet-first. The Padres have encouraged Tatis to cut back on head-first slides after he experienced left shoulder discomfort during spring training and then suffered a partially dislocated left shoulder on a hard swing on April 5 that landed him on the 10-day injured list.
Tatis did the splits while keeping his foot on the bag.
“Oh wow. I still can do this,” he told himself.
Musgrove said Tatis doing the splits shows “that he’s ready to play. He’s just a freak athlete. He’s got a lot of style and a lot of flair. … Being on the same side as him I love it even more now. He’s a young player who plays with passion.”
Tatis said that when general manager A.J. Preller told him he had tested positive, “I’ll be honest, I just started laughing, how crazy it is. I’ve been behaving, following the rules, doing the protocol stuff and still got it. But nothing we can do, nothing we can control about it. And now we’re here in the field and glad we’re helping the team right now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.