Tatis doing 'better than everybody thought'

Padres' star shortstop encouraged by progress of injured shoulder

August 7th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- We’ve seen what can do on a baseball field. Apparently, he can impress in the trainer’s room, too.

As the Padres opened a six-game homestand on Friday against the D-backs, the superstar shortstop and manager Jayce Tingler were buoyed with optimism about his health. Tatis is on the 10-day injured list for the third time this season -- and the second time because of a left shoulder subluxation.

“It’s bouncing back better than everybody thought,” Tatis said. “I’m feeling pretty good about it.”

Added Tingler: “He has always shown an incredible ability to recover and bounce back. Seeing him from three or four days ago to where he is now, it seems like a significant improvement to me.”

Tatis, 22, sustained a recurrence of his partial shoulder dislocation on July 30 and went to the IL the next day after an MRI exam showed inflammation and instability in the shoulder.

Tingler isn’t ready to put a target date on Tatis’ return, and the National League home run leader said he probably would need “a little more” time to recover from this injury than when the shoulder first forced him to the IL in April. He was sidelined the minimum 10 days then.

Tatis was back on the field at Petco Park on Friday shagging flies in center field during batting practice -- “a little cardio,” he said -- and he has been doing hitting drills off a tee and via soft toss in the indoor batting cage.

“I’d say he’s getting pretty close, if we continue to progress, to getting out on the field and hitting,” Tingler said.

The key thing, Tatis said, is that doctors still say the shoulder will suffer no further damage if there’s another dislocation.

“Nobody’s scared about what it’s going to be long term,” Tatis said.

The series opener vs. Arizona was the Padres’ 111th game of the season. Tatis has missed 24 of those. Still, Tatis has 31 home runs in his 87 games. Entering Friday, he also was atop the NL with 23 stolen bases, a .651 slugging percentage and a 1.024 OPS.

During his first IL stint this year, Tatis adjusted his swing to reduce the strain on his shoulder. This time, however, the injury came on an awkward feet-first slide into third base. When Tatis put weight on his left arm during the slide, the shoulder popped.

In the days immediately following the latest injury, surgery was mentioned as a possibility. Tatis said it was indeed on the table, but improvement quickly followed as he rested the shoulder.

“It was very painful,” Tatis said. “But I embrace it. That’s part of the game, and that’s going to happen. … I’m definitely coming back this year.”