The Padres continue to await the return of Fernando Tatis Jr., who hasn’t played this season while recovering from an offseason fracture in his left wrist. The club’s franchise shortstop underwent its latest set of imaging yesterday, and the results were mixed.
Tatís’ latest CT scan didn’t reveal the level of healing for which the team had been hoping, writes Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has still not yet been cleared to swing a bat, although he hasn’t suffered any sort of setback. “Another MRI scan continues to show healing, but it was not quite at the level for … a full green light,” president of baseball operations AJ Preller told reporters (including AJ Cassavell of MLB.com). “Basically we’re in a spot where we’re going to progress week-to-week.”
That’s certainly not an ideal development, particularly given how long Tatís has already been sidelined. When announcing the injury and subsequent surgery in mid-March, Preller indicated the All-Star infielder could be out for three months. We’ve now hit that timetable, and the continued “week-to-week” treatment plan for Tatís to pick up a bat means he’s still not on the verge of an imminent return. As Acee points out, it’s difficult to imagine he’ll be ready to play in a major league game before the July 18-21 All-Star Break, since he’ll certainly need a rehab stint in the minor leagues even after building back into game shape physically.
At the same time, Tatís has continued to make incremental progress. He was cleared to play catch today, the first time he’s been able to snag balls out of the air after previously being limited to taking grounders (video provided by Annie Heilbrunn of the Union-Tribune). Asked how he feels about his current status, Tatís conceded “It’s a little of both. A little bit happy because I’m still progressing. And a little bit sad, because it’s not what everybody wants, including myself” (Cassavell link).
As Tatís was quick to point out, the team hasn’t missed much of a beat in his absence. Despite losing one of the sport’s top players, San Diego enters play Tuesday with a 38-24 record. They’re the top Wild Card team in the National League at the moment, and they sit just percentage points behind the Dodgers in the NL West. That’s largely on the strength of the pitching staff, though, as the Friars place 13th in the majors in runs scored (272) and 21st in park-adjusted hitting (94 wRC+). San Diego shortstops have an awful .170/.271/.257 slash line on the season, as Ha Seong Kim has cooled after a strong start and top prospect CJ Abrams struggled badly enough he was optioned back to the minor leagues.
Whenever Tatís is able to return, the position should go from a weakness to an unqualified strength. Preller unsurprisingly indicated the club isn’t feeling any pressure to make an outside addition over the coming weeks, telling Acee and others “we’re expecting to have him back, it’s just a matter of when. I don’t think (the recent imaging) changes anything to where we need to do something form a roster standpoint.“