Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. ends slump with 1st two spring hits

A hit is a hit, even if it's only spring training. For San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr., it has been a long time coming.

Tatis had been 0-for-16 this spring before hitting a smash shot off the glove of Chicago White Sox shortstop Erik Gonzalez for a single in the first inning Saturday at Peoria, Arizona. The hit came against former teammate Mike Clevinger. Tatis later added a two-run double.

They were the first hits in 526 days for Tatis, who missed all of last season. He was on the cusp of returning from surgery on his left wrist when he was suspended for 80 games in August by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

"He hasn't played in a while. He's going to hit," manager Bob Melvin said earlier in the week when asked about Tatis' slump. "I'm sure he's a little frustrated right now, and he's doing a lot of work, too. The last thing I'm worried about is Fernando Tatis hitting or not."

Tatis isn't eligible to return to the active roster until April 20. When he comes back, he'll play right field. The Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a $280 million, 11-year contract in December.

Until Saturday, Tatis' last hit was on Oct. 2, 2021, against the San Francisco Giants.