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Tatis Jr. credits dad with quick rise to MLB

Rookie's father had 11-year big league career
@AJCassavell
June 16, 2019

DENVER -- Perhaps Fernando Tatis Jr. would be a budding superstar, even if his father hadn't spent 11 seasons in the big leagues -- eight of which Tatis Jr. spent following Tatis Sr. from city to city. But in the eyes of the younger Fernando, there's no way he'd have

DENVER -- Perhaps Fernando Tatis Jr. would be a budding superstar, even if his father hadn't spent 11 seasons in the big leagues -- eight of which Tatis Jr. spent following Tatis Sr. from city to city.

But in the eyes of the younger Fernando, there's no way he'd have been this ready this quickly.

"I always felt like I had an advantage," said Tatis Jr., ahead of his first Father's Day in the big leagues. "I feel like I have some extra points when it comes to that. When my dad took me to the field, and all the other stuff, I learned how to do it when I was young."

Tatis Jr. is off to an incredible start to his rookie campaign. Despite missing a month with a left-hamstring strain, heading into Sunday's game he was hitting .331/.388/.609 with eight homers and 2.1 wins above replacement, according to baseball-reference. On Saturday, he made one of the most spectacular defensive plays of the Padres' season.

Through it all, Tatis Sr. has been something of a sounding board. The two talk on the phone every day, and the elder Tatis was particularly helpful when Tatis Jr. spent time on the injured list for the first time -- with an injury that lingered longer than he would've liked.

"Every day we talk," Tatis Jr. said. "I get advice. I ask how am I doing over here, what to keep doing to get better, stuff like that."

Tatis Jr.'s favorite memory of watching his father play ball? Well, Tatis Sr. is best known for hitting two grand slams in the same inning in 1999, but Tatis was only four months old at the time.

He remembers a different grand slam. Tatis Jr. was in attendance at Citi Field for a late July game in 2009 when Tatis Sr. was called upon to pinch hit in the eighth inning of a 3-3 game. He sent a homer to left-center off Franklin Morales.

"I remember the 40,000 fans at Citi Field, everyone's going crazy, screaming my dad's name," Tatis Jr. said. "He was the player of the game. It was so good to be there."

This Father's Day, it'll be Tatis Jr. taking center stage against the Rockies.

"It's going to be my first Father's Day playing in the Major Leagues," he said. "And I'm happy I get to be here playing baseball."

Noteworthy

• Right fielder Franmil Reyes was out of the starting lineup for a third consecutive game. He's battling a sore neck that he sustained while diving for a fly ball on Thursday.

Reyes has pinch-hit in each of the past two games, and under different circumstances, he'd probably be starting Sunday. But the Padres feel as though the extra rest will be beneficial in the long run. Plus, they don't mind using their best defensive outfield (Wil Myers-Manuel Margot-Hunter Renfroe) in spacious Coors Field.

• The Padres recalled left-hander Brad Wieck before Sunday's game against the Rockies, a move designed to add cover to a beleaguered bullpen. Fellow southpaw Robbie Erlin was optioned to Triple-A El Paso.

• During Father’s Day games, for the fourth consecutive year, players wore specially designed New Era caps to raise awareness and funds for the fight against prostate cancer. Players also had the option to wear Stance multi-pattern blue-dyed socks. MLB will again donate 100% of its royalties from the sales of specialty caps and apparel emblazoned with the symbolic blue ribbon -- a minimum $300,000 collective donation -- to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer.

This effort also includes the annual Prostate Cancer Foundation “Home Run Challenge,” which has given fans the chance to make a one-time monetary donation or pledge for every home run hit by their favorite MLB Clubs during the time period of Saturday, June 1 through Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16, all the while tracking where their team stacks up in a “Team vs. Team” competition. Every dollar donated through the Home Run Challenge goes to PCF to fund critical research to defeat prostate cancer. As of June 13, more than $1.26 million has been pledged via the Home Run Challenge in 2019. Since inception, the Home Run Challenge has raised more than $51 million for PCF, the world’s leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research.

Founded in 1993, Prostate Cancer Foundation has funded nearly $800 million of cutting-edge research by 2,200 scientists at 220 leading cancer centers in 22 countries around the world. Because of PCF’s commitment to ending death and suffering from prostate cancer, the death rate is down more than 52 percent and 1.5 million men are alive today as a result. PCF research now impacts 67 forms of human cancer by focusing on immunotherapy, the microbiome, and food as medicine. Learn more at pcf.org.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.