Sport - MLB
MLB Star Fernando Tatis Jr Knows How To Trust His Game, Even When His Form Dips
Fernando Tatis is already an MLB star. Son of the man who holds the record of 8 RBI in one inning – Fernando Tatis Sr – he says his father was a great influence and the cool Dominican is primed to emulate him.
But why is it that he relishes facing fast pitchers who send the ball hurtling towards fast enough to get a speeding ticket?
RSNG What is it like facing a 100mph pitch?
FERNANDO TATIS JR., MLB STAR “I love it! I may sound crazy, but I do really relish facing the fastest pitchers.
“That’s what we’re in the sport for and there are more and more pitchers who are throwing speeds that are either approaching 100mph or over, and it’s a great challenge to play against them.
“I want to face a faster pitcher than a curveball pitcher because I know the ball is coming in the right way that I want it to. I can read it and I know the line, it’s just going to get there quicker.
“But a curveball has different sharp angles, it doesn’t stay true and they’re hard to read and get right every time. A curveball may be slower, but it dips right before it gets to you and it’s hard to judge exactly where it’s going.
“So, although the faster ball gives you less time to react, you know where it’s going to be and have more chance of predicting when to swing. A curveball usually averages around 75-80mph in the Big Leagues and it’s sharp.”
RSNG For people who aren’t that familiar with how baseball works, can you explain how hard hitting a home run is?
FERNANDO TATIS JR. “Well, a home run isn’t the be-all and end-all in baseball and it’s far more difficult than people think.
“I don’t ever let it enter my mind at any point and I just play the ball as it comes onto the bat. You can’t dictate how the ball is going to come at you and the pitchers in the Major League are great baseball players.
“It’s the last thing that’s on my mind when I walk up to the plate, because on occasions when I have wanted to take the guy deep, it’s not always gone well, haha!”
RSNG So it’s a lot more technical than people think?
FERNANDO TATIS JR. “Yeah, it really is and that’s why we work hard on technique, focus, concentration and making sure that we make the right contact with the ball.
“If you think that you’re just going to step up to the plate, swing and send the ball sailing into the crowd every time, you’re going to be in for a big shock.
“Not going for power is the way that I feel best. It’s about timing and because all of the pace and power is coming towards you, you have to time that connection just right, and then the ball will take care of the rest.”
RSNG I hear you’re a decent basketball player. Do you think you could have gone down that route?
FERNANDO TATIS JR. “I was pretty good, but it has always been my dream from a very young age to play in the Major League. If I could compare myself to anyone who is playing right now, when I was playing basketball regularly, I would say the Lakers’ point guard, Russell Westbrook – although he’s quite some way taller than I am!
“It’s not always about height, though and there have been a lot of great players in the NBA who aren’t much taller than me.”
RSNG It also helps when your dad was a hell of a good player?
FERNANDO TATIS JR. “Haha! Yeah, my dad obviously had such a huge influence on me and I loved watching him play, and going to the matches and everything about the day of a baseball game. I knew that’s what I wanted to do in my own life.
“I met a lot of great players as I was growing up and it was just such a great time being able to meet them and obviously, without my dad, I may not have done so. So, yeah, the influence of being around baseball a lot of my life was always going to have had a big impact on me.”
RSNG How do you react when people think they have got your measure or when the critics begin to think you’re losing your touch?
FERNANDO TATIS JR. “Every player goes through some loss of form at some point in their career, no matter what sport they’re playing – you have to be ready for that. Nobody is perfect… far from it.
“But me personally? I love it. Because you’re always concerned about when that dip in form is going to come, because it will. When I go through it, I know that the only way is up and there’s nowhere lower to go.
“From then, I just trust my game, I trust my hitting and go through the same things in my mind that I always do. Because I know that period isn’t going to last forever, and I’m confident that I can play my way out of it.
“It’s great when the critics start as I know myself and I’m a relaxed and cool kind of guy. I won’t be getting into conversations with people. I just take it on the chin, work harder and go from there.
“I’ve not got a bad word to say and people are entitled to their opinions. I know that sports writers and commentators have got to make their money some way, and I know that they will soon be talking good about me again.”
RSNG Do you have any special routines before you play a game?
FERNANDO TATIS JR. “Not really. I’d say that a good breakfast is the most important thing, after a good night’s sleep. I go for a walk around the park and I am always at the ground early.
“I like to be punctual and I like to have plenty of time to relax beforehand. I’ve never been late and I never want to be. I suppose that’s just in my nature, so when you think about it, it’s not something special to other people, but maybe I do actually have a routine, haha!”
RSNG You’ve had a couple of injuries but you find time to relax and recover, don’t you?
FERNANDO TATIS JR. ‘Yeah, I have two dogs and they are quite a handful running around, but they help keep my mind off baseball and allow me to concentrate on life… especially when I am injured and unable to play, because that can be a frustrating time.”
“They can actually sense when it’s time for play and time for rest and sleep and they like to come over and sleep on me, when I am quite tired and resting. The quiet is a giveaway, haha!”
WHAT NEXT? Find out why the NBA’s Kevin Durant’s college days were key to his Olympic success in this RSNG interview.