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Fernando Tatis Jr. gets 1st hits for Padres since 2021

A hit is a hit, even if it’s only spring training. For Fernando Tatis Jr., it’s been a long time coming.

The San Diego Padres star 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 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.”

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Tatis isn’t eligible to return to the active roster until April 20. When he comes back, he’ll be in 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.

Walker hurt

St. Louis Cardinals rookie outfielder Jordan Walker, one of the sensations of spring training, left the game against the Houston Astros with a strained right shoulder suffered on a slide at second base in the first inning.

But manager Oliver Marmol said he was not “overly concerned. Day to day.”

Marmol said he hadn’t intended to play Walker on Sunday anyway and that Monday is a scheduled off day for the team. Walker will be re-evaluated Sunday but it seems he will be able to play later in the week.

Before Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Houston, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Walker led the Grapefruit League in hits (14), batting average (.438), slugging percentage, OPS, total bases and extra-base hits.

“There was no reason for him to keep going and get it more fatigued,” said Marmol. “If it was up to him, he’d keep going but there was no reason to continue.”

Song shut down

The Philadelphia Phillies are shutting down 25-year-old right-hander Noah Song for a few days because of back tightness. He had an MRI on Friday.

“It’s just something that happens, I guess,” Song told reporters. “It kind of came on gradually, I guess, a couple days ago. It’s just something that they wanted to be very cautious of and aware of. We’re just going to monitor it as time goes on.”

The Phillies selected song in the Rule 5 Draft and he must spend at least 90 days on the active roster to stay with the organization beyond this season. Song appears headed to the injured list because the Phillies said he won’t be ready to pitch by opening day.

Song had been a flight officer training on a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in northeast Florida before the Navy granted a transfer from active duty to reserves. That decision allowed him the chance to try and regain the skills that were impressive during his only pro season in 2019 when he made seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate, striking out 19 in 17 innings with a 1.06 ERA. With a fastball in the upper 90s mph, he went 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings during his senior year at Navy.

Ruiz deal

Catcher Keibert Ruiz agreed to an eight-year contract with the Washington Nationals, reportedly for $50 million. The contract begins this year and runs through the 2030 season, with club options for the 2031 and 2032 seasons.

Ruiz was part of the trade deadline deal in 2021 that sent Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers. He is entering his fourth big league season.

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