An MRI taken Saturday morning revealed left shoulder instability and inflammation, the team said, and Tatis will rest before he is re-evaluated in about 10 days, with no current plan for season-ending shoulder surgery. When Tatis landed on the injured list in April with the same injury, he returned after the minimum 10-day stint, and the Padres are hopeful for another relatively quick recovery this time. But that’s contingent upon how Tatis feels over the next week or so.
On three prior occasions this year, Tatis has missed time because of shoulder trouble. He missed a few games in Spring Training, then nine more in April while on the IL with a subluxation (though he recovered from that injury within about four or five days). He most recently endured shoulder trouble in June, missing a game against the Reds, but for the most part, Tatis has managed to mitigate the injury with regular treatment and strengthening exercises for the shoulder.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler noted that Tatis felt “a little bit more sore” than he’d felt after those previous injuries, prompting Saturday’s placement on the injured list. The recurrence of the injury again raises the question of whether Tatis will require surgery. That currently isn’t the plan, as surgery would end Tatis’ season. But what if Tatis doesn’t bounce back the way he has in the past?
“If we don’t improve or if he doesn’t have any signs of strength, range of motion, all those things, then of course, [surgery] would be on the table,” Tingler said.
Tatis and the Padres are aware that one shoulder subluxation makes the possibility of another more likely in the future. Surgery is the optimal way to prevent such dislocations, but the Padres have said that Tatis could do no long-term damage on his shoulder by continuing to play with the possibility of such partial dislocations. After Tatis’ April injury, general manager A.J. Preller noted that other players have opted to play through subluxations and undergo surgery in the offseason.
The Padres said they would revisit that option if the injury were to recur -- and now it has. So does that make offseason surgery more likely for Tatis now?
“That option you’re talking about is definitely one of the options that Fernando is going to think about and discuss,” Tingler said. “Right now, we’re going to go day to day and see how he’s feeling over these next 10 days with treatment.”
Needless to say, the Padres can ill-afford to be without Tatis for very long. He’s the frontrunner for the National League MVP Award, with a .292/.373/.651 slash line, while leading the NL with 31 homers and 23 steals. The Padres meanwhile, are trying to chase down the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West, while trying to hold off the Reds for the second Wild Card spot.
Still, the Padres have weathered this storm a couple times already this season. Tatis spent two stints on the IL -- once for the subluxation and the other for a positive COVID-19 test. The Padres went 13-4 while he was on the IL. Plus, they might be better equipped to withstand his absence now, after adding Adam Frazier at the Trade Deadline. Frazier played second base on Saturday, with Jake Cronenworth sliding to shortstop against Rockies righty Germán Márquez. Backup shortstop Ha-Seong Kim would presumably start at short against left-handed pitching.
“We have done it before,” Tingler said of winning without Tatis. “What does it take? It just takes everybody to do their jobs, honestly. … It takes a big group of guys.”
And it’s not just Tatis, either. The Padres placed right-hander Chris Paddack on the injured list on Saturday with a left oblique strain. Paddack sustained the injury during his bullpen session on Saturday, mere hours after the Padres passed on adding any starting pitching at the Trade Deadline. The timetable for Paddack’s return is unclear -- and rookie right-hander Reiss Knehr will start Sunday in his place.
Knehr was recalled from Triple-A El Paso on Saturday. So was right-hander Miguel Diaz, and outfielder Jake Marisnick joined the roster after he was acquired via trade on Friday.
Diaz, Knehr and Marisnick took the roster spots of Tatis, Paddack and right-hander Nabil Crismatt, who was optioned to Triple-A El Paso.