Injured Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. says he’ll play again this season; will it be as an outfielder?

Injured Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. says he’ll play again this season; will it be as an outfielder?

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Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., who’s been sidelined since July 30 with a recurrence of left shoulder problems, told reporters on Friday that he’ll “definitely” play again this season. Tatis is eligible to come off the injured list on Tuesday, and as Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, the expectation is that he’ll be activated at some point not very long after he becomes first eligible. 

Acee also writes of another intriguing subplot related to Tatis’ serialized shoulder problems — a possible position switch. Tatis shagged flies in the outfield, and, per Acee, GM A.J. Preller didn’t exactly bat down talk of a position chance when asked about it: 

“Right now, the idea is let’s see if he can get back on the field, and then we’ll think about anything else after that.”

This, of course, would’ve been a good opportunity for Preller to dismiss any talk of moving Tatis to center field, but he passed on that opportunity. Tatis himself was a bit cagey when asked about moving to the outfield, as Acee’s story recounts

The injury is to Tatis’ non-throwing shoulder, which means shortstop shouldn’t be inherently dangerous to him on that front. However, the organization might think that moving him off the most rigorous position other than catcher might help him stay healthier in general. That, of course, is a sensible objective given that Tatis is under contract in San Diego through 2034. In addition, the Padres might believe that Tatis is better suited to center, where his excellent sprint speed could be more directly leveraged. Clearly, the idea of such a move is under consideration. With worthies such as Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim on the active roster, the Padres can afford to let Tatis move off of shortstop. 

Whatever the future holds, the Padres need Tatis’ bat back in the lineup as they attempt to remain within range of the first-place Giants in the NL West and cling to the second wild card spot. Tatis this season is batting .292/.373/.651, and despite the missed time he still leads the NL in home runs (31) and stolen bases (23). 

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