When young Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. went down holding his shoulder in obvious pain on April 5, subsequently leaving the game and being placed on the injured list, many people assumed he was set to miss a large chunk of the 2021 season. After all, it looked incredibly painful and the Padres later announced he had suffered a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Fast-forward to April 13 and there seems to be growing optimism the superstar will be back sooner rather than later. He's already been shown doing fielding drills and batting practice before Padres games in video footage and, Tuesday in Pittsburgh, he again took BP before the game.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler said this is encouraging and he "looks good" (via Annie Heilbrunn), but nothing concrete was mentioned as a possible return date.
Worth mentioning here is that Tatis is eligible to be activated off the injured list on Friday, April 16. That's the first day of a three-game series against the first-place Dodgers. The Padres shouldn't rush him back just for that series, but if they feel he's ready to go, he very well could be back.
For those worried about the long-term health of Tatis, surely the Padres and their medical personnel aren't going to risk a player of his caliber -- and, yes, with his contract -- for a short-term gain here in 2021. Further, CBS Sports interviewed an orthopedic surgeon who said that "it is not out of the question that a short IL stint could get him better," and that "most first-time shoulder subluxations are treated non-surgically and heal, at least at first."
Tatis was off to a slow start at the plate at the time of his injury, but it was only five games and he had just gone 2 for 4 with a homer on the previous day. In 148 career games, he's hitting .297/.371/.575 (153 OPS+) with 24 doubles, eight triples, 40 homers, 99 RBI, 115 runs, 27 steals and 6.9 WAR. He turned 22 years old in January.
The Padres entered play on Tuesday sitting 8-3 with a plus-20 run differential. They have the second-best record in baseball, after the Dodgers.