Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. will begin rehab with San Diego affiliate Double-A on Saturday. Tatis participated in batting practice with the Padres before their game Friday night before leaving to join the San Antonio Missions. He is slated to serve as DH and first batter:
Tatis, 23, has not played this season after undergoing surgery in March to repair a broken wrist. His original schedule had him away for up to three months, or until June. Major League Baseball rules state that a position player can spend up to 20 days on a rehab assignment, meaning Tatis would have to make his season debut before the schedule flips to September.
“I don’t think we have a fixed number of batting attacks,” Melvin said of Tatis’ rehab mission schedule. “And also, you’d like to bring a guy back here when he swings the bat pretty well too. We’re later in the season; it’s not going to take three weeks to bring him back here, so we’ll just take it day by day. and see where he is physically and how he feels at home plate.”
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Tatis should see the action at the designated hitter and in his usual position, shortstop, as well as in center field. He made 24 outfield appearances last season, and the Padres want him to remain versatile in part so they can continue playing infield Ha-Seong Kim. The self-assured Kim had a stellar season at the plate during Tatis’ absence, even beating center fielder Trent Grisham by over 40 OPS points.
Of course, wherever Tatis plays, he will enter a new Padres roster after a week of trades that saw them add outfielder Juan Soto, first baseman Josh Bell and infielder Brandon Drury.
When healthy, Tatis has been one of the majors’ best players. In 273 career games, he hit .292/.369/.596 (160 OPS+) with 81 homers and 52 stolen bases. His contributions were about 13.6 wins over replacement, according to Baseball Reference calculations.
The Padres come into play Saturday with a 61-48 record, putting them 13½ games behind their opponents, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the National League West. The Padres are also 1.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the No. 1 wildcard spot in the NL.