Padres discusses playing Fernando Tatis Jr. in multiple positions
LAS VEGAS — The San Diego Padres, having concluded their march to the playoffs, are now clear on the official end of Fernando Tatis Jr.’s suspension – April 20, barring any postponement. But there are other issues to be resolved.
The first is Tatis’ position. The second, and most important, is his health.
Tatis underwent surgery to repair the labrum of a left shoulder which suffered a handful of subluxations during the 2021 season in early September, then underwent a second surgery around mid-October to repair the left wrist that he injured in an off-season motorcycle accident, this one to further stabilize the scaphoid.
Padres president of baseball operations AJ Preller, speaking at general managers’ meetings in Las Vegas, said he hoped Tatis could begin baseball operations in the first half of January, which would put him online to be a full participant at the start of spring training. .
It remains to be seen where Tatis will be playing at that time. He will be at least a part-time shortstop, but it is also the position where Ha Seong Kim played Gold Glove caliber defense last season. Tatis could also see time in center field, bouncing in what would end up being an unconventional field between the right-hander hitting Kim and the left-hander hitting. Trent Grisham. But some time in left field could also be in play, perhaps depending on how the Padres handle the position following Jurickson Profar’s opt-out.
“I spoke to him personally about the position,” Preller said Wednesday. “He wants to win, that’s the No. 1 thing, and we want to get him back on the pitch. I think the next six, eight weeks, before spring training – we’ll make sure he’s very clear on what the expectations are, definitely get his feedback some more as we see what the options are for the roster and how he fits in.
“Getting him back on the pitch is the priority, but as we go into the next couple of months we’ll find out more about what position that looks like. And if it has to play in multiple places, we’ll talk about that too. .”
Tatis, 23, missed the entire 2022 season, spending the first four months recovering from a wrist injury, then was hit with an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance while that he was about to return near the middle of August. The Padres still owe Tatis $324 million over the next 12 years and have spoken about how important it is for him to take on more responsibility after at least a few egregious missteps.
Preller, who kept an open dialogue with Tatis as the Padres advanced through the National League Championship Series in October, is hopeful.
“He’s hungry to come back,” Preller said when asked what he’s learned from his recent conversations with Tatis. “I think he knows he has doubts there, rightly so, because he made a mistake. I think he was excited about the success of the team, but I know that he wants to do more of it, so all these mixed emotions from his point of view. He’s had a good last few months to admit his mistakes and have the surgery, which was a good step, and he’s been diligent until ‘now in rehab. I think he’s as excited as anyone to be back. , and he’s got a lot to prove. That’s kind of the mindset I have of him – he has a lot to prove.”
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