San Diego Padres 21-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. plays with style, swagger, and generational talent. He is Major League Baseball's future, but baseball's past threatens to slow his roll.
But Jayce Tingler insists he has no interest in reigning in his young star.
"Looking to put any restraints, that would be insane," Tingler said on a pregame Zoom call with reporters. "The way his play is - the electricity - he plays the game right, he's passionate, he works, he's loved by teammates, this staff. Those are all qualities we would never restrain."
It was an important clarification, given the situation that arose in Monday's game. Tatis was at bat in the 8th inning with the Padres leading 10-3. The bases were loaded with a 3-0 count. Tatis Jr. proceeded to crush the next pitch over the wall in right for a grand slam, his second home run of the game, giving him seven runs batted in.
Both Tingler and Rangers manager Chris Woodward expressed dissatisfaction in the second year phenom pouncing on the 3-0 pitch in a lopsided game. Tingler, who coached last season with the Rangers on Woodward's staff and spent years in their organization, said Tatis Jr. missed his take sign.
"He's young, a free spirit and focused and all those things,'' Tingler said. "That's the last thing that we'll ever take away. It's a learning opportunity, and that's it. He'll grow from it."
The perception, after hearing Tingler's comments after the game, was that the manager was suggesting that his star shortstop learn how to handle situations in one-sided games in accordance to baseball's 'unwritten rules'.
Tingler said Monday that the teachable lesson was about seeing coaches' signs. Missing those could have consequences. In this case, it worked out nicely for the Padres.
"I'm happy the 21-year-old missed the sign there and opened up the game," Tingler said. "I'm glad he missed this one."
The rookie manager had a change of tone in relation to the Padres' approach when they have a late lead. In his postgame address he said, "We had a little bit of a comfortable lead. We're not trying to run up the score or anything like that."
Woodward expressed his disappointment Monday night as well.
"I didn't like it, personally," Woodward said. "But like I said, the norms are being challenged on a daily basis. So just because I don't like it, doesn't mean it's not right. I don't think we liked it as a group."
On Tuesday Tingler emphasized the importance of putting games away, something they've struggled to do. While Tatis' grand slam might have upset Woodward and the Rangers, it left no doubt about the game's result. That's important for a team riding a five-game losing streak, with a struggling bullpen.
"They're gonna feel how they feel. And he's gonna feel how he feels. They're trying to kick our ass, and we're trying to kick their ass and win. That's the bottom line. We can't sit here and worry about people's feelings."
The Rangers did show their displeasure by throwing the next pitch behind Manny Machado. It was the first pitch from Ian Gibuat, who replaced Juan Nicasio. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Gibaut will face a suspension for the pitch - despite not receiving a warning during the game.
Woodward served a one game suspension Tuesday.
Tingler didn't seem to take issue with Gibaut and the Rangers' decision Monday night, but said Tuesday that the throw was 'not okay' and he didn't expect it.
"That whole stuff is just tired, throwing at players and throwing behind them. It's just tired."
He understands the frustration and confusion caused by the game's unwritten rules, saying if you ask 100 people you'll probably get 98 or 99 answers on what's right. What he doesn't think is right is Tatis feeling the need to apologize for the grand slam after the game.
"I've been in this game since I was a kid," Tatis said Monday night. "I know a lot of unwritten rules. I was kind of lost on this. Those experiences, you have to learn. Probably next time, I'll take a pitch."
Many prominent figures in the game came to Tatis' defense Monday night and Tuesday morning, including Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, and Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench.
While the incident sparked frustration, particularly from Padres fans, Tingler said there is no friction inside his clubhouse. He said he spoke to Tatis for 20 minutes Monday night and again Tuesday morning, telling reporters, "We're good."
"I feel like we're a very tight unit," Tingler said. "I feel like not only do they feel like I and the coaching staff have their back, I feel it's mutual. I feel they have ours as well."
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