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Today feels like another Opening Day for the Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. finally returns tonight!

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We all know Opening Day was March 30 but today feels like another Opening Day because it’s the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. On March 30 the Padres didn’t have the big four in their lineup. That will change tonight.

There was so much talk in the offseason about what the big four could do this season. Tatis, Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado and Juan Soto sat in front of thousands of fans at Padres FanFest before Spring Training and as someone who was standing in the middle of that crowd, I think we all were envisioning what tonight was going look like.

Bob Melvin has never been able to write Tatis’ name in the lineup card in a game that counts. Bogaerts and Soto have never played a regular season game as Tatis’ teammate. That changes tonight.

Perhaps the 9-11 start is what makes this feel more like a second Opening Day. It seemed like the fan base—and some of the players—were just waiting for the 24-year-old to come back and save the day.

Let’s be clear though: one guy isn’t going to save the day. The Padres as a whole have to play better than they have over the first 20 games if they want to go deep into October. With that said, the one guy coming back tonight can certainly make a big difference.

In 2021, Tatis didn’t even play a full season and was able to lead the National League in home runs (42). He drove in nearly 100 runs and placed third in NL MVP voting behind Soto and Bryce Harper.

Tatis is expected to lead off tonight. Speaking of that spot in the lineup, I wasn’t surprised to learn this morning from Kevin Acee that no player with at least 500 plate appearances in the lead-off spot since 2019 has a higher batting average (.317) or slugging percentage (.627) than Tatis.

I’d say that’s a pretty nice guy to add to a struggling lineup.

“He brings something that really no other player in the league does,” Jake Cronenworth said yesterday. “He’s a spark, he’s relentless energy throughout the game. It’s a guy you can feed off of at any point in the season. Having him at the top of the lineup doing what we know he can do, I think if anything it’s gonna give us a fire under our butts.”

The Padres lineup hasn’t looked very energetic as of late but that changes tonight! Happy Tatismas!