Tatis turns to rubber to avoid plunking

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We should probably know better by now than to be surprised by Fernando Tatis Jr. and the things he can do on a baseball field. Even so, he pulled out a completely baffling new trick on Saturday during the Padres’ 11-8 victory over the Astros in 12 innings.

The star Padres shortstop came to the plate in the eighth inning to face Astros reliever Joe Smith, and when an 0-2 sinker tailed into the batter’s box, he found perhaps the most acrobatic way to avoid it potentially hitting his back knee. In a feat of flexibility, Tatis somehow pulled his right leg back before falling into the splits, a move more like something you would see on the dance floor than on a baseball diamond.

“I was just trying to get my knee out of the way of the ball coming in,” Tatis said. “I felt like it was going to get me on the knee, and I needed to do something special to not get hit in the knee right there.”

Tatis said he tries to stay nimble, but his acrobatics weren’t exactly planned.

“I stay pretty active, plenty of stretching,” Tatis said. “So I know I can do stuff like that. That’s part of the show. I certainly wasn’t trying to do the splits, but the situation took me there.”

Judging by his huge game-tying home run off of Ryan Pressly just an inning later, the Padres shortstop is apparently no worse for wear.

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