Minor-league pitcher shades Fernando Tatís Jr. after home run; Tatís’ mother responds

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Fernando Tatís Jr. has yet to make his 2023 season debut with the San Diego Padres as he finishes his 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use last season. But he’s already getting a taste of what he’ll likely face from opposing fans — and maybe even some opposing players — when the 24-year-old returns to the big leagues in two weeks.

Tatís, currently in rehab at Triple-A El Paso to stay in shape, hit a huge home run off San Francisco Giants minor league pitcher Kade McClure on Wednesday, a highlight that quickly went viral among Padres fans. But McClure himself had a different way of framing Tatís’ explosion.

“Cheater hits a homerun in a rehab assignment during a steroid suspension,” McClure wrote in a since-deleted tweet. McClure was citing a tweet from a San Diego sportscaster showing the home run with the caption: “Kade McClure will be telling people for years about the time he absolutely nuked Fernando Tatís Jr.”

Padres fans flooded in with responses to McClure’s tweet, with Tatís’ mother, Maria, even responding on Instagram: “A 7 year old minor league player just wanted a minute of fame, that’s why he uses a super start [sic] player name to gain visibility.”

Although Tatís clearly enjoyed his trot around the bases, McClure claimed that his response to the home run highlight was due to his “sarcastic charisma.”

“I have,” McClure told Sports Illustrated. “I’ve given up a few home runs in my life. I’ve lost more sleep than others.”

On the latest episode of “Flippin’ Bats,” FOX Sports MLB analyst Ben Verlander blasted McClure for his comment.

“You probably shouldn’t go on Twitter after you hit a home run to a generational talent and complain,” Verlander said. “Just laugh and move on. What are you doing?”

Verlander’s co-host Alex Curry, however, understood where McClure was coming from.

“Now people know his name. Now people are talking about him, somebody who spent seven years in the minors. I don’t think that’s right, but I see what he’s doing. . . . No press is bad press in some people’s minds . people.”

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McClure has technically spent six seasons in the minors due to the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season. He has a career ERA of 4.07 and has never reached the major leagues.

However, both Verlander and Curry believed that McClure’s tweet did not warrant a response from Maria Tatís.

“You’re Fernando Tatís Jr., you’re a superstar, you’re a generational talent,” Verlander said. “He made a million dollars on his [14-year, $340 million] contract [extension]her mother doesn’t need to be in the middle of this.”

“There’s a reason your son is playing in the minors right now and not in the big leagues,” Curry said. “No need to add fuel to this fire. What are you doing? Yeah, he’s in the minors because he got caught cheating. Pay no more attention. [on] why is your son playing in the minors right now.”

Tatís missed the entire 2022 season due to wrist and shoulder injuries in addition to the suspension. In 2021, his first full major league season, he produced a .282/.364/.611 slash line in 130 games and finished third in National League MVP voting.

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