The Padres remain optimistic that star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. will be back in the lineup for Friday night’s series opener against the Dodgers at Petco Park.
Tatis continues to recover from a partially dislocated left shoulder and partially torn labrum he sustained on a swing he took April 5 against the Giants. He’s been taking batting practice and participating in baseball activities at full speed.
Manager Jayce Tingler said last week that Tatis has dealt with the shoulder popping in and out in the past, and general manager A.J. Preller said he was assured that once the shoulder is healed, Tatis will not be putting it at long-term risk by returning to action, other than perhaps the risk of another dislocation.
But when Tatis gets back on the field, will his style of play need to change so he doesn’t end up sidelined again? Tingler said that over the past several days, he and the Padres’ medical staff have discussed with Tatis some of the plays that present higher risk to his shoulder. They’re trying to have him move toward a two-handed follow-through on his swing, which he naturally finishes high with his left arm outstretched behind him. They also want him to pick and choose his spots for sliding headfirst on the bases.
But where’s the line between precaution and fundamentally changing Tatis’ exciting style of play?
“There’s definitely a fine line,” Tingler said. “... Things are going to happen in the game, because it’s game speed and he’s just a natural at a lot of things. So I think the main thing is, can we put some focus in some of the practice work and try to minimize that? I believe this with him: the more he practices something -- he’s a really quick learner, he’s super sharp, a ton of baseball IQ -- the more he practices that, guys like that can usually quickly transition their work into the game.”
San Diego also hopes Tatis’ offensive output will return to normal once he’s back in the lineup. In five games this season, he's 3-for-18 with one home run.
Myers could be back in lineup Thursday
With injuries piling up for the Padres, they had to hold their breath when Wil Myers exited Tuesday’s game against the Pirates with right knee inflammation. Tingler said before Wednesday’s 5-1 loss at PNC Park that Myers was dealing with patellar tendinitis, but he was feeling better and could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday’s series finale.
“He’s making progress,” Tingler said. “... I’d really like to keep him off his feet and see if we can continue to progress and have a chance of maybe getting him back in the lineup [Thursday] if he can continue to keep feeling better.”
Myers, who entered as a pinch-hitter and grounded into a double play in the seventh inning on Wednesday, has been dealing with right knee trouble since Spring Training, and Tingler noted that Myers played through lower-half and leg issues last season.
“You look around the locker room and, realistically, I promise you this, nobody is 100 percent,” Tingler said. “They’re all managing certain little injuries here and there, and Wil’s just kind of flared up on him last night.”
Prior to Wednesday's game, the Padres activated relievers Pierce Johnson (groin) and Dan Altavilla (right calf) from the injured list, placed right-hander Taylor Williams (right knee inflammation) on the 10-day IL and optioned right-hander Nabil Crismatt to the alternate training site.
Johnson allowed one run in one inning on Wednesday, while Altavilla entered with two outs in the eighth and struck out the only batter he faced.