The Padres continue to await the return of Fernando Tatis Jr., who hasn’t played this season as he recovers from an offseason fracture to his left wrist. The club’s franchise shortstop suffered his latest set of images yesterday, and the results were mixed.
Tatís’ latest scan did not reveal the level of recovery the team hoped for, writes Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He still hasn’t been allowed to swing a bat, although he hasn’t suffered any sort of setback. “Another MRI continues to show healing, but it wasn’t quite on the level for…a full green lightPresident of Baseball Operations AJ Preller told reporters (including MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell). “Basically, we are in a situation where we are going to improve week by week.”
It’s certainly not an ideal development, especially considering how long Tatís has already been sidelined. When news of the injury and subsequent surgery was announced in mid-March, Preller indicated the All-Star infielder could be out for three months. We’ve now reached that timeline, and the ongoing “week-to-week” treatment plan for Tatís to take a bat means he’s still not on the verge of an imminent comeback. As Acee points out, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be ready to play in a major league game before the all-star break July 18-21, as he’ll definitely need a rehab stint in the minor leagues. even after returning to game fitness.
At the same time, Tatis has continued to make gradual progress. He was cleared to play catch today, the first time he was able to catch balls in the air after previously being limited to catching balls on the ground (video courtesy of Annie Heilbrunn of the Union Tribune). When asked what he thought of his current status, Tatís conceded “It’s a bit of both. A little happy because I’m still progressing. And a little sad, because it’s not what everyone wants, including me” (Cassavell Link).
As Tatís was quick to point out, the team didn’t miss much in his absence. Despite losing one of the best players in the sport, San Diego comes into play Tuesday with a 38-24 record. They’re the best Wild Card team in the National League right now, and they’re only a few percentage points behind the NL West Dodgers. Much depends on the strength of the pitching staff, however, as the Friars rank 13th in the majors in runs scored (272) and 21st in adjusted hitting to the park (94 wRC+). San Diego shortstops have a terrible .170/.271/.257 slash line on the season, as Ha Seong Kim cooled off after a good start and a great prospect JC Abrams struggled enough to be returned to the minor leagues.
Every time Tatís is able to come back, the position should go from a weakness to an unqualified strength. Preller unsurprisingly indicated that the club felt no pressure to make an outside addition over the next few weeks, telling Acee and others “we expect him to come back, it’s only a matter of time. I don’t think (recent imagery) changes anything where we need to do something from a roster perspective.“