SAN DIEGO -- At long last, Fernando Tatis Jr. is back in San Diego with the Padres.
With three games remaining on his PED suspension, Tatis rejoined the team at Petco Park on Monday and will not play any additional Minor League games before his return.
Tatis worked out with the Padres during early batting practice but left the ballpark before gates opened to the public, as he is mandated to do while serving the remainder of his suspension. That suspension is scheduled to end Thursday in Arizona when the Padres face the D-backs.
Tatis’ performance at Triple-A El Paso should indicate he’s as ready to return as he’ll ever be. In eight games, he had an absurd slash line of .515/.590/1.212.
“You saw the numbers leading up -- it looked like he was seeing the ball pretty good,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ll just try to bubble-wrap him, get him to Arizona, and he’ll be in that first game there.”
Toward the end of his rehab stint, Tatis’ offensive performance reached a different level. In his final three games, he went 11-for-16 with six home runs.
“He needs to get up here ASAP. I’ve never seen anything like that,” said catcher Brett Sullivan, who was called up to the Padres on Sunday prior to Tatis’ final game with El Paso. “You guys are in for something special when he comes back. He’s ready.”
Tatis was suspended for 80 games last August after he tested positive for Clostebol, a performance enhancing substance. He was permitted a 15-game rehab assignment before his return, though the Padres chose not to use the full allotment of those games.
When Tatis returns, he will do so as the team’s leadoff man and right fielder. He made the switch to the outfield from shortstop after the team signed Xander Bogaerts in the offseason. The Padres expressed a preference for Tatis to play outfield, anyway, upon his return, following a trio of surgeries in 2022 -- two on his left wrist and one on his left shoulder. The workload there will be a bit lighter as he reacclimates to the big leagues.
Tatis hasn’t played an MLB regular-season game since 2021, when he finished third in NL MVP voting. He fractured his wrist prior to the ’22 season, then was suspended in August during a rehab assignment, just before he was healthy enough to return.