September 28, 2022

Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. will begin a rehab assignment Saturday with San Diego’s Double-A affiliate. Tatis took part in a workout with the Padres before their game Friday night before departing to join the San Antonio assignments. Scheduled to serve as a DH and leadoff hitter:

Tatis, 23, has not played this season after undergoing surgery in March to repair a broken wrist. His original timetable had him out for up to three months or into June. Major League Baseball rules dictate that a position player can spend up to 20 days on a rehab assignment, meaning Tatis will have to make his season debut before the calendar turns to September.

“I don’t think we have a set number of at-bats,” Melvin said regarding the timing of Tati’s rehab assignment. “And also, you’d like to get a guy back here when he’s swinging the bat pretty well as well. We’re later in the season, this isn’t going to be a three-week process to get him back here, so we’re just going to take it day by day and see where he is physically and how he feels at the plate.”

Tatis is expected to see action at designated hitter and his usual spot, shortstop, as well as center field. He made 24 appearances in the outfield last season, and the Padres want him to remain flexible in part so they can continue to play with infielder Ha-Seong Kim. The confident Kim has enjoyed a breakout season at the plate during Tatis’ absence, even outscoring center fielder Trent Grisham by more than 40 points OPS.

Of course, wherever Tatis plays, he’ll be joining a new Padres lineup 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 best players in the majors. In 273 career games, he has hit .292/.369/.596 (160 OPS+) with 81 home runs and 52 stolen bases. His contributions are worth about 13.6 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference’s calculations.

The Padres enter Saturday’s game with a 61-48 record, placing them 13 ½ games behind their rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the National League West. The Padres are also 1 ½ games back of the Atlanta Braves for the top NL wild card spot.

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