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San Diego Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is set to take a significant step in his recovery from a broken left wrist. During an interview with 97.3 The Fan, GM AJ Preller said Tatis will begin a hitting progression Friday, his first time swinging a bat with intent as part of his rehab. Up to this point Tatis has only taken dry swings to gauge his recovery and progress.

"Tatis, he'll begin his hitting progression today," Preller said (audio link). "He's been doing some more physical activity, more defensive work over the last couple weeks. The last thing is the hitting progression. He'll start that today. We'll go week-to-week and start to increase swings and volume, and obviously progress into games. But yeah, he'll start swinging the bat today."

As Preller noted, Tatis remains week-to-week and his return is not imminent. That said, swinging a bat is a major milestone in the rehab process. Now he can begin not only getting his timing down at the plate, but also building strength in the wrist. Tatis had surgery on the wrist in March and it's not uncommon for wrist injuries to sap power, even after the player is cleared medically.

A few weeks ago it was reported Tatis was not recovering as well as hoped, and he would not return in late June/early July as initially planned. The current information suggests Tatis won't return until early August at the earliest, and perhaps not until mid-to-late August. He essentially has to go through a spring training program to prepare for game action.

Tatis, 23, suffered the injury in a motorcycle accident in the offseason. Because teams could not have contact with players during the owners' lockout, the Padres did not learn of the injury until spring training. Tatis authored a .282/.364/.611 batting line with a National League-leading 42 home runs last season. He finished third in the NL MVP voting.

At 50-41, the Padres are 9 1/2 games back in the NL West and three games up on a wild-card spot. They have lost five of their last six games and 14 of their last 20 games, however, and the offense has really struggled at times. San Diego figures to acquire an outfield bat at the deadline even with Tatis expected to return to the lineup last month.

Tatis is in the second year of his record 14-year, $340 million contract extension. Since debuting on Opening Day 2019, Tatis has played only 273 of 546 possible regular season games, or exactly 50 percent.