10/30/08 8:25 PM EST
Tatis, Mets agree on one-year deal
Veteran provided versatility, clutch hitting during '08 season
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
The 33-year-old third baseman-turned-outfielder is likely to share the Mets' left-field assignment with Daniel Murphy in 2009.
Tatis became an invaluable contributor to the Mets in mid-May after the club lost Moises Alou to injury for the second time. Tatis batted .297 with 47 RBIs, 33 runs, 11 home runs and 16 doubles in merely 273 at-bats.
He was among the team's most reliable hitters with runners in scoring position, batting .392 in 74 at-bats in those circumstances. Promoted from Triple-A New Orleans on May 13, Tatis started 35 games in right field, 28 in left field, two at third base and one at first base.
A grade 3 separation of his right shoulder, suffered Sept. 16 when he was playing left field in Washington, ended his season and left the club more susceptible to left-handed pitching. He had batted .311 in 106 at-bats against southpaws.
Tatis did not undergo surgery. Having rehabbed his shoulder, he began playing regularly for the Estrellas team in the Dominican Winter League. He has seven RBIs, two home runs and a .324 average in 37 at-bats while playing third base for Estrellas.
"I feel fine now -- I didn't need surgery and I will be ready to go in the spring," Tatis said in a team press release.
"Fernando got so many key hits for us last year," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said in the release. "Not having him the last few weeks ... certainly hurt. His versatility certainly makes us a better team."
Tatis was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year in separate balloting conducted by the Major League Baseball Players' Association, for its Players' Choice Awards, and by the Sporting News. He had returned to professional baseball in 2006 after not playing in 2004-05.
Hoping to earn money to defray the construction costs of a church in his native Dominican Republic, he played in 28 games with the Orioles in 2006 and signed with the Mets in '07, playing the entire season with their Triple-A affiliate.
Although Murphy primarily is playing second base in the Arizona Fall League, the Mets have said they intend to have him play left field in '09. They have envisioned a platoon, with Murphy facing right-handed starters and Tatis batting against lefties.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.