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Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. confident of big 2024

Sun Feb 18 1:09pm ET
Field Level Media

Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. had a subpar performance in 2023 -- a bounce-back year following injuries and a PED suspension -- but he said he's ready to deliver big things in San Diego in the upcoming season.

"I feel way better than I did last year," Tatis said in an article published Sunday in USA Today. "Talent plus work ethic, it feels like this is gonna be special. ... I really had a really good offseason. My confidence is through the roof.''

Much was expected of the high-payroll Padres last season after they reached the 2022 National League Championship Series -- without a suspended Tatis. But they failed to achieve in 2023, finishing 82-80 and 18 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, out of the postseason despite a 19-7 record in a September push.

Tatis got acclimated in the outfield last season, moving from shortstop to right field and winning a Platinum Glove. Still, he hit only .257 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs, far below his 2021 totals of .282, a National League-leading 42 homers and 97 RBIs.

Entering his fifth major league season, Tatis is only 25, and manager Mike Shildt told USA Today that Tatis can return to All-Star form now that he has the comeback season behind him.

"The hardest thing to do in the entire sporting industry is hit a baseball," Shildt said. "You take 17 months off of doing it, and then you come back. It's not easy to just jump back into it as maybe people would expect or hope. So he got his at-bats, he got through it. There were some ups and downs, which is, regardless of the player, the game is hard.

"Now he's got those experiences, got his offseason. Now it's time for him to take that next step, getting back to the dominant player that he's excited to be."

The Padres likely still have high expectations for 2024 despite their effort to shed payroll to below $190 million, per USA Today. They spent $255 million last season and traded Juan Soto -- who will earn $31 million this season -- to the New York Yankees in the offseason as part of their quest to avoid paying the luxury tax again this year.

Tatis is signed to a $14-year, $340 million deal that runs through 2034.

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