Tatis says Padres' future will 'be a fun ride'
The way he plays, the way he has captivated a city and a sport, it's easy to forget that Fernando Tatis Jr. is a 21-year-old who has played all of 149 Major League games.
As he’s quick to point out, there’s still room to learn, still room to grow.
"This game, every day will teach you a new lesson," Tatis said after he learned a bitter one on Thursday night. "I'm just going to keep getting better."
The Padres were eliminated on Thursday night by a 12-3 loss, swept in the National League Division Series by the rival Dodgers -- which didn't sit right with the self-assured shortstop, who boldly proclaimed that he wanted "the big cake" at the start of the season.
Tatis did darn near everything in his power to win that cake. In the regular season, he batted .277/.366/.571 with 17 homers, falling one shy of the NL lead. He overhauled his defensive game and became one of the sport's most impactful defensive players.
Except Tatis wanted more than that.
"They showed it to us," Tatis said of the Dodgers. "We still need to get better in certain different areas. And we will get better. That's the thing. Now this is going to be a fun ride."
It's hard to view Tatis’ first foray into playoff baseball as anything but a success. He began the month saying, "Real players make real history in the postseason." Then he homered twice in an elimination game, becoming the youngest player to do so.
Tatis batted .318/.444/.682 in the playoffs. He nearly added a third home run, but Cody Bellinger leapt and robbed him at the center-field wall in Arlington in Game 2 on Wednesday night. The Padres would lose that game by a run, and for all intents and purposes, the curtain dropped on their season.
"I'm going to remember this to all of next year," Tatis said. "I'm going to remember this feeling, what it's about. Trust me, I don't like it."
Not that Tatis, one of the Padres' hardest workers anyway, needed any extra motivation.
But that work is for another day. After a grueling year, manager Jayce Tingler called on his players for a mental respite.
"Over the next couple weeks, I would just advise the guys: Go in, be a husband, be a father, a son, an uncle, a brother, and go invest in some of that time," Tingler said. "Because they sank a lot of time for the team, for the organization."
For Tatis, that means a return to his native Dominican Republic, a well-deserved breather after a brilliant second season.
"It's time to go to the D.R., chill on the beach," Tatis said. "I'm just still kind of sad of how short we ended the season. I know we were capable of more. But I'm just grateful for what we have learned this year, all we went through.
"And just looking forward to starting it all over again."