SAN DIEGO – Fernando Tatis Jr. took a vicious turn on an Anthony DeSclafani curve on Monday and curled up into dirt in pain – pain quickly felt by Padres, their fans and frankly the sport as a whole.
Tatis – San Diego’s dazzling 22-year-old shortstop and one of baseball’s most exciting players – suffered a subluxation in his left shoulder in the third inning of the Padres’ 3-2 loss to the Giants on Monday. He left the field with obvious pain accompanied by manager Jayce Tingler and an athletic team coach. There is not yet a schedule for Tatis̵
“It becomes really difficult to speculate without getting an MRI and getting all the things that the doctors need to look at and call,” Tingler said afterwards.
For most of his professional career, Tatis has struggled with soreness in his left shoulder – a fact that emerged in March when he walked out of a Spring Training game because of it. He returned to the field two days later. But given Tatis’ reaction on Monday night, Padres could look at a significantly longer absence. (Tingler added that it was too early to speculate on surgery).
After the first injury – which he sustained while reversing a globe – Tatis continued to receive daily treatment on his shoulder. He assured the Padres that it felt OK. On Monday night, however, Tingler revealed that Tatis also has slightly smaller shoulder dislocations in the past, saying, “It comes out and comes back.” Just never to this extreme.
“It’s mostly [pain] I have seen him inside, “said Tingler.
Tatis, of course, signed a record-breaking 14-year contract with the Padres in February after two brilliant – but shortened – seasons in the major leagues. Given his ridiculous production across those two seasons – .301 / .374 / .582 with 39 homers and 27 steals in 143 games – any injury to Tatis would be devastating for a Padres team with World Series ambitions and the Dodgers to deal in the National League West.
Tatis has handled a handful of injuries throughout his professional career. He only played 84 games during his rookie season due to hamstring and back injuries. He also broke his left thumb in minors in 2018 and had his season shortened.
Tatis started slowly in 2021, hitting just 0.167 with five errors in five games. He was replaced at shortstop by Ha-Seong Kim, an out-of-season signing from Korea who would presumably serve as Tatis’ primary replacement in the short run should he miss a long time. Tingler also mentioned Jake Cronenworth, Jorge Mateo and Tucupita Marcano.
“Kim would be the first option,” Tingler said. “We know Mateo can play over there, Tuc can play over there and definitely Jake. I want us to get guys to do it. ”
Not by Tatis’ incredibly high standards, of course.
Padres built sufficient depth and positioning flexibility to believe they would have great quality leaders in every position, even in the event of injury. But Tatis is clearly more than that. He is the spark behind the franchise’s resurgence and a dynamic super tool with five tools. Even in the midst of early season matches, he has already launched a 465-foot moon shot and avoided a mark with a Matrix-like slide.
Tatis’ injury threw a lane over a once-living Petco Park Monday night. The visuals were extremely jarring – Tatis curled up in front of the home plate and writhed. After about 30 seconds on the ground, he stood and walked off the track, an athletic trainer who stabilized his arm.
“You don’t like to see someone get hurt, especially a guy like that who’s pretty funny for the game, for the fans and for the game of baseball,” DeSclafani said. “Every time an injury happens to such a guy, it’s not good to see. Hopefully he has a quick recovery and he is back on the field and playing. ”
Padres starter Adrian Morejon was sharp in four innings but allowed homers to Darin Ruf and Evan Longoria. Craig Stammen handed over a block-solo explosion to pinch-hitter Mike Yastrzemski in the seventh. San Diego put two men aboard the ninth, but Tommy Pham flew out to the warning lane to finish it off.
It was an uninspired performance, but if Padres’ thoughts were not entirely on that night’s game – well, that might be understandable.
“The guys are professionals and continue with their business,” Tingler said. “But [Tatis’ injury] is heavy for their hearts and certainly also for the mind. ”