SAN DIEGO -- Fernando Tatis Jr., who entered Friday tied for the National League lead with 22 home runs, envisions participating in (and winning) the Home Run Derby in the future.
Actually, that would be “[Derbies] with an 's'," he clarified.
Just not the 2021 edition.
Citing the health of his left shoulder, Tatis said Friday that he will not participate in next month's T-Mobile Home Run Derby in Denver. He's still planning on taking part in the All-Star Game, if selected (which seems like a formality at this point).
"The biggest priority right now is my health and contributing to the team," Tatis said. "It's just that way."
Not to say it was an easy decision. Tatis said he's dreamed of taking part in the Home Run Derby and might have done so had his first half not featured multiple setbacks with his left shoulder.
Tatis missed nine games in April after sustaining a partial dislocation of that shoulder on a swing. Last week, he felt some effects of his shoulder injury while diving for a ground ball (though he missed only one game).
Tatis added that his decision not to participate was based solely on, "what's going to help the team for the long run." He is still undergoing regular treatment on the shoulder, which he currently puts at 75 percent.
"We've got a good way to go," Tatis said. "But the good thing is I'm capable of being out on the field every single day. That's all that matters."
The decision was left entirely up to Tatis, who spoke with Padres general manager A.J. Preller last week. Preller encouraged Tatis to make his own choice and said he would have the organization’s support either way.
"I'm 22," Tatis said. "I feel like there's going to be more chances for me to go to the Home Run Derby. When I go over there, I want to put on a pretty good show."
Approaching the halfway point of the season, Tatis is one of the National League's top MVP Award candidates. He entered Friday hitting .281/.365/.657 while leading the NL in home runs and stolen bases (15).
Tatis is currently lapping the field at shortstop in the first round of All-Star voting. The top three vote-getters at each position will advance to the next round of voting, to be conducted next week. Tatis is a heavy favorite to start at short.
"That's going to be a dream come true, if we make it happen," Tatis said.
If so, Tatis will be on hand at Coors Field for the Derby, in which he says he's picking Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani to win. Tatis added that Braves slugger Ronald Acuña Jr. did some lobbying for Tatis’ participation.
"He was talking to me, like, 'Let's go! Let’s go!'" Tatis said. "I told him to have fun this year, but next time I go, I'm going to win it. So he can try to win it this time."
Next time, eh? It just so happens the 2022 edition of the Home Run Derby takes place in a familiar locale for Tatis: Dodger Stadium.