The San Diego Padres are currently in playoff position, sitting in the second NL wild card spot at 57-46. They’ve gotten to this point without one of their two superstar position players. Fernando Tatis Jr. has been out for the entire 2022 season to date as he recovers from a fractured wrist.
The good news is the Padres might not have to wait much longer. Tatis is set to take batting practice Monday and then, “if all goes according to plan,” he’ll start a minor-league rehab assignment this coming weekend, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
It still might take some time between Tatis heading out to a rehab stint before he actually joins the Padres, but any major steps are surely welcome at this point. It was all the way back on March 16 when he had surgery and, at the time, the expectation was Tatis would miss up to three months. In the months since, it has seemed like a slow progression toward a return with a few setbacks.
Tatis, 23, only played in 130 games last season due to a shoulder injury hampering him throughout. He still led the NL with 42 homers while slashing .282/.364/.611 (166 OPS+) with 31 doubles, 97 RBI, 99 runs, 25 steals and 6.6 WAR. He’s been one of the very best players in baseball since his debut in 2019 with the only caveat being that he’s only played in 273 games.
Once he returns, though, he joins Manny Machado in the middle of the lineup to give them two MVP-caliber players. The Padres — who acquired All-Star closer Josh Hader on Monday — are said to be in on the Juan Soto bidding as well.
For the Padres and their fans, they can dream on adding both Soto and Tatis to the lineup here in the upcoming weeks. For everyone else, it’s still worth tracking Tatis’ progress. The game is better with him on the field.