For now, no surgery for Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr.
The worst-case scenario is that Tatis ends up on the operating table before he plays another game. However, after a night in which Tatis crumpled to the ground after dislocating his left shoulder, followed by a day of medical tests and consultations, the Padres and their doctors are giving Tatis a chance at the best-case scenario.
“Everybody was pretty confident that surgery wasn’t the answer at this point in time,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said Tuesday.
Preller called the medical report “pretty positive” on balance. Tests showed what Preller called “a slight labral tear,” but without damage to the surrounding bone, muscle, or rotator cuff. Preller also said Tatis had “full range of motion,” and the shortstop even said he felt well enough to play.
Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres’ $340-million man, took a mighty swing Monday and again partially dislocated his left shoulder. Here are a few of his options.
This marked the third time since spring training that Tatis experienced discomfort in the shoulder. The Padres hope that rest and rehabilitation — for the next 10 days at minimum, or perhaps for additional weeks — can alleviate the issue.
“We’ll see how things play out here, over the course of the next couple of months,” Preller said.
Preller said the Padres’ doctors are confident that, by continuing to play, Tatis is not at risk of additional damage that could complicate eventual surgery. The Padres plan to discuss with Tatis whether he might mitigate the risk of injury by tempering what Preller called an “ultra-aggressive” style of play. That could mean asking him to stop sliding headfirst, to limit diving in the field, or to better control the majestic finish to his swing.
“If he continues to have issues, and this becomes something that is a regular part of it, and we do decide surgery is the answer, I think surgery is going to fix it, according to our medical team,” Preller said. “We’re not putting him at more risk by putting him out there over the course of the next few months and, hopefully, the rest of the season.”
Surgery likely would end his season. With an estimated six months of rehabilitation, Preller said, some players get the surgery in the offseason even if they can play through the discomfort, in the interest of avoiding the daily strength and maintenance work necessary to keep playing.
The San Diego Padres’ 2021 mission statement is “Hungry for More.” After opening day at least, they are in first place ahead of the Dodgers.
In his first 650 plate appearances — the equivalent of one full season — Tatis is batting .297 with 40 home runs. The Padres this spring signed the 22-year-old to a 14-year contract, the longest in major league history.
The Padres initially will fill the position with Ha-Seong Kim, who played seven seasons in South Korea — primarily as a shortstop — before signing with San Diego last winter. The Padres have enviable depth, including the option to move third baseman Manny Machado, a former All-Star shortstop, back to his original position.
However, Padres manager Jayce Tingler did not try to slight the impact of a potential long-term loss of Tatis.
“Let’s be real,” Tingler said. “You’re not going to replace him.”
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