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Tatis Jr. resumes baseball activity

No timetable for return of Padres rookie shortstop
@AJCassavell
May 4, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- There's still no timetable for the return of Padres rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who is on the injured list with a left hamstring strain. But Saturday offered a welcome sight. The 20-year-old phenom played catch and took a few swings as he returned to baseball activity

SAN DIEGO -- There's still no timetable for the return of Padres rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who is on the injured list with a left hamstring strain. But Saturday offered a welcome sight.

The 20-year-old phenom played catch and took a few swings as he returned to baseball activity for the first time since he suffered the injury last Sunday in Washington.

Padres manager Andy Green cautioned not to read too deeply into Tatis' progress. Still, the fact that Tatis returned to the field during pregame warmups is clearly better than the alternative.

"He's feeling good," Green said. "All things considered, he's in a really good spot right now. Hopefully it's a shorter ... timeframe to his return than a longer one."

Tatis was off to a red-hot start, posting a .300/.360/.550 slash line with six homers while playing an outstanding brand of shortstop. He'd emerged as the Padres' leadoff man and a catalyst to their best start in nine years.

Tatis sustained the injury when he did a full split while stretching to receive a throw at second base. He was significantly hobbled in the immediate aftermath, walking with a noticeable limp in Atlanta earlier this week. Evidently, he's made progress since then.

Green said Tatis "felt very good on the field today." But the Padres skipper took great care to avoid adding a timetable to Tatis' recovery.

"It's not an indication he's going to be back at any specific time," Green said. "It's part of the process."

Manny Machado has shifted to shortstop in Tatis' place, with Ty France taking over at third base.

Mr. May

Ian Kinsler put forth one of the worst months of his professional career in April, finishing with a .133/.209/.241 slash line and serious questions about the two-year contract he'd signed with the Padres in December.

Since the calendar flipped, however, Kinsler is 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles and two homers. In Tatis' absence, he's suddenly entrenched himself back in the leadoff spot.

Kinsler's underlying numbers this year aren't great, but he's been much better at the plate over the past couple of weeks, when he's seen an uptick in exit velocity and a decrease in his whiffs.

The fix wasn't mechanical, he said. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"Sometimes you get a little too deep into mechanics and you can get in your own way a little bit," Kinsler said. "That's when you just try to free everything up and get on time. ... The game's difficult. It happens fast, and when you're not in a good place mentally, it happens faster."

Kinsler's numbers still need drastic improvement. He's homered in consecutive games, but he's still hitting just .177 this season. That mark will need to improve significantly for him to maintain a regular starting role -- with Greg Garcia an option and Luis Urias knocking on the door at Triple-A.

But despite Kinsler's early struggles, the two-time Gold Glover has been rock-solid at second base. He made a point not to let his offensive struggles affect him.

"I was taught at a young age that there are two different hats," Kinsler said. "There's a hat you wear on defense and a helmet you wear when you're on offense. They're two different sides of the game. Once you take that helmet off, you're a defensive player, and that's where your focus is."

Nix set to resume throwing

Right-hander Jacob Nix returned to the Padres clubhouse on Saturday afternoon, after he'd spent the entirety of April rehabbing his ailing right elbow at the team's complex in Peoria, Ariz. He's been cleared to resume throwing next week.

Nix received a platelet-rich-plasma injection for a right elbow sprain that he sustained late in Spring Training. The 23-year-old right-hander was in the mix for one of the Padres' final rotation spots at the time.

Nix debuted last season and posted a 7.02 ERA in nine starts.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.