Tatis wants Padres to feast on 'big cake'

July 23rd, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- has some lofty personal goals for the 2020 season. He's keeping those to himself.

But the Padres’ star shortstop has also set some lofty goals for his team. And those are for everybody to hear:

"We're aiming for the big cake, man," Tatis said. "We're aiming for everything. The boys are ready. We have a very good team out here. The new guys that have come in, they're adding to our game.

"I think we're aiming for the big cake, and why not? Let's go win the World Series."

Tatis, 21, is one of the biggest reasons that kind of optimism abounds in San Diego. His 2019 season was among the best rookie campaigns in franchise history even though injuries limited him to 84 games.

Tatis is fully healthy now and craving a return to the field more than ever. In the Minors, he played winter ball in the Dominican Republic through the offseason to stay active. Now, because of injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been more than 11 months since he has played a competitive game.

"It's been long," Tatis said. "This is the longest it's been since I've played a professional game since I signed. I'm just excited to get out there and compete and excited to see some really good competition."

The height of that competition resides 120 miles to the north. For the Padres to win “the big cake,” they'll have to knock off the seven-time reigning division champion Dodgers.

That task just got a bit more difficult in the future, with news that star outfielder Mookie Betts inked a 12-year extension with the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Tatis was paying close attention to the deal. A rising star who many believe could reach Betts-like status, Tatis might one day be in line to sign a megadeal himself.

"What can I say man, it's just another reason to keep grinding," Tatis said. "It's not my frontline reason, but it's something to keep me moving forward. I'm happy for him. It's well deserved, that money, as a player who comes to the field every single time and brings his 100 percent. He's a winner, man. He deserves it."

Mateo cleared for return
Padres infielder , who tested positive for the coronavirus during intake screening, is healthy and has been cleared for a return. Mateo, who gave the team permission to divulge his diagnosis, will open the season on the injured list, as he hasn't done any baseball activity in several weeks and needs to ramp up for the season.

A utility infielder and a serious stolen-base threat, Mateo was virtually a lock for the Opening Day roster before his positive test. The Padres acquired him in a June trade, sending a player to be named to Oakland in return.

Mateo will report to the team's alternate training site at the University of San Diego, where he will take part in workouts and intrasquad games until he's up to speed. He is out of Minor League options, so once he's added to the roster, he cannot be sent down without being exposed to waivers.

Mateo's first game for the Padres will mark his big league debut. He is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the team's No. 13 prospect and has posted a .267/.325/.422 slash line and 283 steals across eight Minor League seasons.

Back end of rotation unclear
The Padres kept , and on their Opening Day roster, but general manager A.J. Preller wouldn't go into specifics of how the club will line up its rotation in Games 4 and 5 on Monday and Tuesday.

“We’ll have more and more conversations about that later in the day today and tomorrow,” Preller said.

, and -- in that order -- will start San Diego's first three games.