LOS ANGELES -- Fernando Tatis Jr. seems likely to choose not to have surgery on his left shoulder, sources said Wednesday, a decision that isn’t necessarily final but is tied to Tatis’ belief that his shoulder is stable and will hold up moving forward.
The Padres superstar shortstop has partially dislocated his left shoulder on at least four separate occasions this year, and he spent two stints on the injured list this season as a result. Each dislocation makes the possibility of a future dislocation more likely.
One way to address that concern would be an operation to repair Tatis’ shoulder -- an option that he has said he would prefer to avoid. During the season, Tatis took to a daily shoulder-strengthening regimen in an effort to prevent further injury. Earlier this month, he touted the effectiveness of that routine and his shoulder’s stability.
"I feel like I'm in a great spot, my shoulder is in a great spot," Tatis said. "I feel very secure with where I'm at."
Recovery for such a surgery would take approximately five months. Were Tatis to change his preference at this point, the start of his 2022 season would come into serious doubt.
The Padres and Tatis have been in regular communication over the past few weeks, with the organization laying out the benefits of a potential surgery, but ultimately giving Tatis the final say.
If Tatis were to opt for surgery, it's unclear whether it would affect his on-field performance early next season. Essentially: This type of procedure has affected different players differently.
Tatis, who signed a franchise-record 14-year contract extension in February, slashed .282/.364/.611 in 130 games this season and figures to receive serious National League MVP consideration. Tatis hit 42 homers, the second-highest single season total in franchise history, and he swiped 25 bags -- though he recorded only two steals over the season's final two months, as the Padres asked him to ease back his aggression in an effort to preserve his health during the stretch run.
Perhaps therein lies the most critical question in Tatis' decision. If he forgoes surgery, would he still be able to play his high-octane brand of baseball without risking further injury? Sources close to Tatis say he believes he can, so long as he keeps his shoulder strengthened.
Were Tatis to endure the same issues next season, it would be a serious blow to the Padres if he were to miss further time. They missed the postseason this year, but still hold World Series aspirations for 2022. Tatis (and his balky left shoulder) are at the center of those ambitions.