SAN DIEGO -- The Padres continue to give Fernando Tatis Jr. work in the outfield as he endeavors to return from a partially dislocated left shoulder.
Manager Jayce Tingler and his coaching staff hit the field on Saturday as Tatis took fly balls by himself in right field hours before the Padres faced the D-backs at Petco Park. After his teammates came out for batting practice, Tatis shagged balls in center field for the second straight day.
“We haven’t made any decisions or anything like that,” Tingler said. “He’s at the part of his rehab right now where he’s progressing, which is great. There are some things he can do with physical activity, which is good for his legs -- getting reactions and reads off the bat.”
To be clear, nobody from the Padres’ brass has said Tatis will be in the outfield when he is activated from the 10-day injured list. But it’s not mere exercise when a superstar shortstop works in right field alone, before his teammates take the field for the routine pregame activities. It is, at the very least, an exploration of a position switch.
Tatis, whose left shoulder has been a recurring problem dating back to his Minor League days, has twice landed on the IL because of partial dislocations. He has been amenable to the outfield work.
“Moving out there a little bit and just see what's going to be the best for the team,” Tatis said.
Tatis said he won’t be ready to play when he’s eligible for activation on Tuesday, so he has more time to get a feel for the outfield. Tingler, who got into the left-hander’s batter’s box himself to hit some balls to Tatis on Saturday, already has seen good things.
“There’s a lot of things I love about Tatis,” Tingler said. “When you’re as athletic as he is -- he played a borderline Gold Glove shortstop, he can run, he’s long, he’s athletic, he can throw. He can do a lot of different things.
“What I’d like to see is him feeling better, feeling stronger, making progress toward getting back to the field.”
The outfield experiment is designed to keep Tatis on the field once he does return. The infield presents more plays in which Tatis might dive with the left shoulder in a vulnerable position, plus possible collisions with baserunners. The outfield, Tingler noted, also has diving plays, as well as plays at the wall.
“The reality is there’s risk in every position,” Tingler said. “We’ve got to weigh those things. … It’s not a clear-cut decision, by any means.”