Fernando Tatis Jr. laughed last — and laughed all the way around the bases.
In his first-ever game against the Yankees, the Bleacher Creatures hit Tatis with repeated chants of ‘Steroids! Steroids!” He replied with a two-run upper-deck moon shot, and taunted them right back in San Diego’s 5-1 win at the Stadium.
Tatis — who served an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs — performed just fine for the sellout crowd of 46,724 on hand Friday.
“It’s loud, it’s New York, you’re going to hear everything,” Tatis said. “But just giving a good time to the fans. You’ve just got to learn how to embrace it and how to just give them some good feedbacks.”
His best comeback?
“That home run,” he said.
And it was a prodigious one.
With San Diego clinging to a 2-0 lead in the sixth, Austin Nola — hitting just .137 — drew a walk to bring Tatis to the plate. Then the 24-yrear-old Padres star drilled the next pitch he saw from reliever Ron Marinaccio into the second deck in left field.
It came in as an 82 mph changeup, and left at over 113 mph.
Tatis watched his blast carry, flipped the bat demonstratively toward the Padres dugout and trotted around the bases, relishing all 439 feet of his home run.
“It felt amazing,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get one like that since I started playing. But like I keep mentioning I’ve been hitting the ball hard. That’s one of the main keys for me.”
Tatis missed all of last season, having been wrapping up a rehab assignment for a broken wrist when he testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid. Tatis claimed he “inadvertently” took a medication containing Clostebol.
He’s been getting jeered in multiple cities, dancing to the taunts in Chicago and conducting them at one point Friday.
“I grew up in this game, and I’ve seen everything,” said Tatis, whose father played 11 seasons. “I know how fans are going to react. I know how to interact with them, and whatever is out there you’ve just got to totally embrace it’s part of the game, and fans are one of the biggest thing about this game.”
After Friday’s mammoth homer, his eighth of the year, Tatis returned to right field for the bottom of the inning with a Cheshire Cat grin.
He walked toward the Bleacher Creatures with his arms spread out, then pantomimed speaking his hand, followed by repeated questioning shrugs. The question was clear, asking the fans where their taunts were now.
“He knows what he’s in store for and he’s embraced it,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “So no matter where it is, he realizes what he’s up against and you do the best you can to have a little fun with it. There were some pretty good interaction out there between the fans and him.”