7:16 p.m.: Director Bob Melvin said Tatis would start the mission tomorrow or Sunday (via Athletic’s Dennis Lin). He is expected to play both shortstop and center field in the minors.
6:35 p.m.: Star of the Fathers Fernando Tatis Jr. is closing in on a comeback, as Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Twitter link) that he is on his way to Double-A San Antonio. He will soon begin a rehab mission there, the final stop before returning to Petco Park.
It’s been a while for Tatis, who fractured a bone in his left wrist in the offseason. He underwent surgery in mid-March, with the club expressing hope that he would be back in mid-June. This obviously turned out not to be the case. Although there were no reports of any significant setbacks, Tatis did not recover at the rate he or the team had hoped. He’s gradually built up various baseball businesses over the past few weeks, and he’s now well-positioned to get in games for the first time this year.
Position players are allowed up to 20 days on a rehab assignment. Once Tatis officially begins his mission in the next few days, he can spend just under three weeks in the minors before the team has to bring him to the majors or shut him down. They wouldn’t send him off if they anticipated this latest result, so the club obviously believe he will be ready by the middle or end of this month.
Tatis’ upcoming return will add another star to an already firepower-laden roster. Manny Machado is in the MVP conversation, and the Brothers have brought Juan Soto and Josh Bell in one of the most monumental trades in MLB history. Add Tatis — owner of a .292/.369/.596 line in his first three seasons — to the mix, and the Padres will roll out a stunning high end for the stretch run.
With Tatis out of action, the bulk of the shortstop work went to Ha Seong Kim. The former KBO star overcame a tough rookie season in MLB to hit a league average (.248/.329/.370) while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense for 98 games. With Bell, Jake CronenworthMachado and another acquisition deadline Brandon Dry all around the infield, San Diego will have an embarrassment of riches on the dirt. Tatis has expressed a willingness to move from shortstop to the outfield if needed, with center field apparently the most likely location in that case. Soto has right field considered, and Jurickson Profar is having the best year of his career on the left. Trent Grishamwho stumbled to a .197/.293/.365 line in just under 400 trips to the plate, looks like he’ll be the odd man out almost every day once everyone is healthy .