Fernando-mania hit San Antonio this past weekend
FILE - San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. hits a single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, on Sept. 24, 2021, in San Diego. All-Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. likely will need surgery for a broken left wrist and could miss up to three months, general manager A.J. Preller said on Monday, March 14, 2022. Tatis suffered the injury in the offseason, Preller said. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

Thousands of local baseball fans celebrated the second coming of Fernando-mania, and it had nothing to do with former Los Angeles Dodgers great, Fernando Vanezuela. National League All-Star Fernando Tatis, Jr. returned to the San Antonio Missions for two games, as part of a rehab stint.

Fans packed Wolff Stadium Saturday and Sunday, dozens of them wearing brown San Diego Padres jerseys with Tatis’ name on the back. Hundreds stood in long lines that curled through the parking lot, more than an hour before first pitch. As one father told me, “It’s not everyday we get to see a superstar play here. This happens once every ten years. I had to bring my sons here.”

Tatis fractured his wrist in a motorcycle accident, and this was his first baseball action in 10 months. Tatis, who led the National League in homeruns last season, played Designated Hitter Saturday night. On Sunday, he started at shortstop, batting leadoff. Tatis was hitless for the weekend, going 0-5 with two walks and one strikeout. He also had a fielding error in the first inning Sunday night, unable to come up with a routine ground ball.

Before the game, Tatis told me he’s returning to San Diego to be with the big-league squad on Monday. He says, it was nice seeing familiar faces (he played for the Missions in 2017 and 2018). Tatis also felt the love from the stands.

“People were really loud out here last night. They came out here to cheer. Looks like they had a good time,” Tatis said.

Tatis is eager to head back out to San Diego and rejoin his teammates. The Padres have no chance of catching the L.A. Dodgers in the NL West (15 ½ games behind) but are in a fight right now for a wildcard berth. The Padres added all-star Juan Soto in a trade deadline deal and will soon have a scary good lineup that features Tatis, Jr., Soto, Manny Machado, and Josh Bell.

“It’s going to be super fun. It’s a really good, talented team. Hopefully, we can put in the work to bring it all together,” Tatis said.

Tatis can’t be happy with his hitting performance this past weekend. Despite that, he’s confident in his ability to recapture his all-star level abilities – just needs to work on his timing.

It may have been only a 2-game stint, but fans enjoyed seeing the All-Star in Missions and Flying Chanclas gear. Hopefully, Tatis’ presence helped the team, which lost both games to the Wichita Shock.

What do you think? Did you enjoy watching Fernando Tatis, Jr. playing with the Missions? Reach out to Michael on Twitter @MikeESPNSA. You can listen to Michael on “Halftime” weekdays from Noon to 2 p.m. on 94.1 FM.

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