Tatis faces live pitching, rehab assignment anticipated

August 1st, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Here's one major August addition the Padres could make, with no trade necessary:

Superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. faced live pitching at Petco Park on Monday, a major hurdle in his path back from the left wrist fracture that has kept him out of action for the season's first four months.

It is the first time Tatis has done so since he sustained that fracture, progress that could line Tatis up to begin a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend.

"Felt really good," Tatis said afterward. "I felt nothing, and I felt like I put my best swing out there."

Tatis took six at-bats against Triple-A right-hander Thomas Eshelman, singling in his first trip to the plate and homering in his second, manager Bob Melvin said.

"After the second one, I was penciling him in my lineup tonight," Melvin quipped. "I know that's not the case. But it is amazing to see him. … Really, really good day for him."

Throughout the process, the Padres and Tatis have proceeded with caution, and they'll certainly continue to do so. But thus far, Tatis' swinging progression has gone about as smoothly as they could've hoped for.

Of course, that progression began much later than originally anticipated. Tatis wasn't cleared to resume swinging until mid-July. He underwent surgery to repair the scaphoid bone in his left wrist on March 16, and initially, the team gave a three-month timetable for his recovery.

But since Tatis received clearance to begin swinging, he has moved through each step with ease. He began by taking soft toss in the batting cage, then progressed to full swings against light pitching. Last week, he finally began taking full batting practice.

Now, Tatis is slated for at least one more session of live at-bats against a Padres Minor League pitcher. That’s likely set for Wednesday, Melvin said. If all goes well, Tatis would begin a rehab assignment perhaps as soon as Friday, likely with either Double-A San Antonio or Triple-A El Paso.

It's unclear how long that rehab assignment would last. Tatis, of course, has a penchant for making his returns dramatic. He came off the COVID-IL last season, after nine days stationary at home, and went 4-for-4 with two home runs against Seattle.

Still, it's been 10 months since Tatis last played in a game, so he'd presumably need a decent window to build up. That could make a mid-August return for Tatis most likely. The Padres are slated for a six-game road trip through Washington and Miami, spanning Aug. 12-17.

Tatis has been able to take part in nearly all other baseball activity while he awaited clearance to swing. He's taken regular ground balls at shortstop, and he's even gotten plenty of work in the outfield. A position switch – or even a timeshare between shortstop and the outfield – remains a possibility. But that’s partly dependent on what the Padres' roster looks like after Tuesday’s 3 p.m. PT Trade Deadline.

Right now, those are questions for another day. Once the Padres know "when" Tatis will return they can set about figuring out "where."

As of Monday, they’re a lot closer to knowing the “when.”

"Yeah," Tatis said. "This was really big."