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Tatis Jr. (hamstring) out of lineup vs. Braves

Rookie may avoid IL; France on the bench for opener vs. Braves; Urias wins PCL honor
@AJCassavell
April 29, 2019

ATLANTA -- Fernando Tatis Jr.'s ailing hamstring has put the Padres in a holding pattern. The 20-year-old phenom wasn't in the starting lineup Monday night as the Friars opened a four-game series in Atlanta. But Tatis wasn't placed on the injured list either, meaning there's a chance he won't be

ATLANTA -- Fernando Tatis Jr.'s ailing hamstring has put the Padres in a holding pattern.

The 20-year-old phenom wasn't in the starting lineup Monday night as the Friars opened a four-game series in Atlanta. But Tatis wasn't placed on the injured list either, meaning there's a chance he won't be out for long. The team has scheduled further tests on Tatis to gauge the extent of his injury.

"We care a lot about him, we think a lot of him, we love the way he's started his big league career," said Padres manager Andy Green. "We're going to take care of him. We're going to put him in the position where he has his best shot at health for a long period of time. We haven't made any final determinations on what that plan is."

The rookie shortstop pulled his hamstring on Sunday afternoon in Washington when he did a split while covering second base on a force play. It’s unclear if the injury is more severe than that, and a hobbled Tatis declined to comment on Monday afternoon.

"We're going to take care of him," Green said. "I'd say in the next 24 hours we'll have a good idea of what that looks like."

Tatis, MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect, has been a spark plug for the Padres over the season's first month. He's hitting .300/.360/.550 with six homers, while playing an outstanding brand of shortstop. He's been arguably the sport’s most productive rookie; he’s in the top two at the very least, alongside the Mets’ Pete Alonso.

On Sunday, with the Padres' bench already thin in extra innings, Manny Machado moved to shortstop and Wil Myers moved to the infield. On Monday, utility man Greg Garcia started at short, with Machado back at third base and Ian Kinsler at second. Ty France is also an option in the infield, and Luis Urias is red-hot at Triple-A.

“We always talk about what our contingencies are,” Green said. “Until we have to exercise them, we’ll probably keep them to ourselves. But we have a lot of options.”

France on the bench again

In Tatis' absence, many speculated that France might start at third with Machado moving to short. That wasn't the case on Monday, as France started on the bench for the fifth straight game since his Wednesday callup.

So when might France play?

"Ty's played the last [three] days," Green said, referring to France's pinch-hit at-bats over the weekend in Washington. "Ty's playing frequently. Ty's a big part of what we do. Now, Ty, getting in the lineup, I don't think that's far off."

The Padres promoted France without an obvious position, after he’d spent nearly his entire Minor League career at the infield corners. He raked at Triple-A El Paso, and he's reached base in three of four Major League plate appearances thus far.

Two weeks ago, the Padres began giving France reps at second base -- the first time in his life he'd played the position. Admittedly, it's not an easy transition. But San Diego second basemen own a .144 batting average, the lowest mark in the Majors. France's presence there could be beneficial, even if there’s a dip defensively.

"It was a little confusing at first, trying to remember when to go out for cutoffs, where to be at certain times playing the shift," France said. "There's definitely a lot more to think about than playing at the corners. ... But it's definitely getting easier by the day."

It's unclear where France will play for his first start -- presumably in the next couple days. For now, Green is content to use France as a bench weapon.

"We've said it every day that the guys coming off the bench can win baseball games," Green said. "There's a little bit of a warped sense of what it takes to win a game. It's not the eight guys you put on the field to start the game. It's the 12 or 13 guys that impact every at-bat."

Urias earns PCL honor

When the Padres optioned Urias to El Paso a week ago, they said they wouldn't pay much attention to his numbers. They merely wanted to see Urias get his timing right.

Well, the numbers have been pretty darn good thus far. Urias homered five times in two games over the weekend, and he took home Pacific Coast League player of the week honors after hitting .429 with 35 total bases -- the most in all of Minor League Baseball.

"Five home runs in the last two days is really cool," Green said. "He's swung the bat really, really well."

Urias is the most obvious candidate to be recalled if Tatis' injury necessitates a stint on the injured list.

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