PEORIA, Ariz. — If there was one scene the Padres wanted to avoid this spring, it was probably this one.
Fernando Tatis Jr. exited Tuesday’s Cactus League game against the Reds in the third inning with left shoulder discomfort after a tough play on a ground ball to shortstop. He will be reevaluated on Wednesday, the team said.
The Padres’ star shortstop ranged to his right to make a play with his backhand, then made a long throw across the diamond to retire Reds second baseman Jonathan India. Tatis’ throw was awkward, and he immediately appeared to be in some discomfort — though it’s worth noting that it was Tatis’ non-throwing shoulder that was ailing him.
Tatis was evaluated by manager Jayce Tingler and a team trainer and left the field shortly thereafter. Following a half-inning in the trainer’s room, Tatis exited Peoria Stadium accompanied by a member of the team’s medical staff.
Obviously the Padres can ill afford to be without Tatis, who inked a record-setting 14-year extension last month. He’s raked all spring, posting a 1.092 OPS across 11 games.
Tatis missed five games earlier this month with a non-COVID related illness. Then he missed a couple more days after a hard headfirst slide into home plate left him a bit banged up, though the team never disclosed a specific injury. It’s unclear whether Tuesday’s shoulder ailment is related.
The Padres have other options to play shortstop, in the event that Tatis were to miss any time during the regular season. Manny Machado has an extensive history there, and both Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim — who are expected to share time at second base — can play shortstop as well.
But considering his ridiculous production through 143 career games — .301/.374/.582 with 39 homers and 27 steals — any injury to Tatis would be crushing for a Padres team with World Series ambitions and the Dodgers to contend with in the National League West.
San Diego is already dealing with injury concerns pertaining to center fielder Trent Grisham (hamstring strain) and catcher Austin Nola (fractured left middle finger). Their status for Opening Day remains in question.
The club has offered no specifics on a timetable for Tatis.