The National Weather Service should alert the other 29-teams in baseball of the pending storm coming.
“El Nino” is on its way, first stop, the storm will hit the Valley of the Sun, when the Padres open a long road trip against the Arizona Diamondbacks, kicking off the return of Fernando Tatis.
We’ve travelled quite a road since we last saw Tatis at shortstop for the Padres in his 42-home run season in 2021.
On the field, the Padres became a pennant contender and went to the National League championship series without Tatis.
El Nino’s career ran into the ditch. The chronic shoulder dislocation. The refusal to get surgery. A blowup in the dugout with Manny Machado during a slump. The motorcycle accident. The wrist injury. The lack of information. The nasty 80-games suspension due to use of a PED cream.
The meeting with Padres ownership. The second wrist surgery. The shoulder surgery. The rehab. The new set of rules imposed by ownership.
The public apology. The separation from his teammates and the franchise. The disgust from the fans. The criticism in his own clubhouse.
Then spring training’s opening workouts, followed by an explosive (.515) rehab stint in El Paso.
So as he takes the field at Chase Field, there are lots of things we know.
He looks fully healthy. He looks bigger in the upper body. He will play in a new position in right field.
He rejoins a team that has underachieved this year, full of batting slumps. Now he takes over as a lead off hitter in a ‘Star Wars’ batting order. He becomes part of what should be called the ‘Fab Four’.
But we also know other things.
He will be viewed as a cheat everywhere he goes on the road this year, becoming Public Enemy #1.
His reputation is tainted to the point people inquire if he was a cheat before he got caught? Only time will tell how a year plus away from baseball has impacted his game, knowing he won’t be facing AAA-minor league pitchers when he steps into the box.
There are behind the scene issues too. Has he matured from all the negative things he got himself into? Has the money from his 14-year contact changed him or will there be more balance and better decision making in his life?
Can he put aside what was said by teammates after the suspension, words like stupid-selfish-arrogant. People were disappointed, shocked, angered in the aftermath of this year’s hiatus from baseball.
We know what he did, last time in uniform, The great defensive plays, the 42-home runs, the .292-average, the 52-stolen bases and his 195-career RBIs. There’s nothing phony about the talent that allowed him to put together a (.596) slugging percentage and a staggering (.965) on base number, all while playing the game at ages 21-22-23 before he lost his way.
Swagger, energy, pizazz. That’s who he was prior to his bad decisions and bad luck. We see what it will be like for him when he returns. I am looking forward to home runs, big plays in right field, plus responsibility and respect for his team, the owner, the fans and this city.
A storm is coming as ‘El Nino’ arrives at the top of the Padres batting order. We see now if he leaves the wreckage of past bad decisions behind, and if the wreckage will be what he does to opposing pitchers, and its impact on his teammates.
Storm warnings start in Arizona with this weekend series.