The city of San Diego can collectively exhale.
A day after exiting early with left shoulder discomfort, Fernando Tatis Jr. is “doing well" and could return to the lineup in the next couple days, according to Padres manager Jayce Tingler.
“Feeling really good today,” Tingler said. “In fact, he was lobbying to get in the lineup today. I thought that was very encouraging. He’s going to have a good work day today, and we’re going to see where it goes.”
Tatis exited in the top of the third inning of the Padres' 5-4 win over the Reds on Tuesday after backhanding a grounder and firing to first. The shortstop immediately walked toward his dugout after making the throw, holding his right hip as he departed. Tingler said the shoulder discomfort happened as he was reaching for the grounder.
"'I hope he’s faking it.' That’s what went through my mind," said outfielder Tommy Pham of Tatis’ injury. "He’s such a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish here. Not too many guys have his skill set and can impact the game like Tati can."
Tingler was complimentary of Tatis’ cautious approach during Spring Training, saying the Padres' star likely would have played through the injury if it occurred during the regular season.
“Right now, he’s being very mature, very responsible, understands the timeline of where we’re at,” Tingler said. “I think it’s good for him to say something right now."
Tatis has dealt with minor shoulder issues dating back to his time in the Minors. The 22-year-old hasn’t missed extended time due to these flareups, but Tingler noted that trainers and strength coaches will continue to monitor the shoulder.
Minor ailments have pestered Tatis over the last several weeks. In early March, Tatis came down with a non-COVID-related illness, sidelining him for a week. Shortly after returning, Tatis slid hard headfirst into home plate after tagging up on a shallow pop fly, causing him to miss a couple more games.
Tatis has played well this spring even with the setbacks, hitting .391/.440/.652 with two home runs in 10 games.
The injury bug has been unkind to San Diego in recent weeks. Along with Tatis, Trent Grisham (hamstring sprain), Austin Nola (fractured left middle finger) and Drew Pomeranz (left forearm inflammation) have missed time as well.
“We’ve been, like a lot of teams right now, nipped with a couple of injuries here and there and doing the best we can to try and manage it,” Tingler said on Tuesday.
Managing the health of Tatis, who signed a 14-year, $340 million contract extension in late February, will be San Diego’s top priority. In 143 career games, Tatis has slashed .301/.374/.582 with 39 home runs and 27 steals. Last season, Tatis finished fourth in National League MVP Award voting.
The goal for Tatis will be putting that production together during a full season. As a rookie, Tatis was limited to 84 games, suffering a hamstring strain early, followed by a back strain in mid-August that ended his season. Tatis stayed healthy last year, playing in 59 of San Diego’s 60 games and all six playoff games in the pandemic-shortened season.
Tingler discussed Tatis’ daring style of play last week, pointing out what could be lost by asking his franchise cornerstone to tone it down.
“This is what makes him an extremely special player: Before you start to have that conversation, you’ve got to realize what you would be possibly taking away,” Tingler said.