Posted on April 30, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the brightest stars in baseball has suffered the first meaningful setback of his career. The San Diego Padres placed shortstop phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. on the 10-day Injured List with a strained hamstring. At the moment, the Padres aren’t sure of the severity of the injury or how long they’ll be without their 20-year-old shorstop.
Tatis hurt himself on Sunday when he tried to stretch to catch a ball while keeping his foot on second base. He failed to keep his foot on the base and did an awkward split in the process. After walking around in clear discomfort for a few seconds, Tatis was removed from the game. He then sat out Monday’s game against the Braves and was placed on the IL prior to Tuesday’s game in Atlanta.
The son of a former big leaguer, Tatis began 2019 as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He made the opening day roster despite never playing at the triple-A level and hit the ground running in the majors. Over his first 100 at-bats, Tatis is hitting .300 with an OPS of .910 that has been helped along by six home runs and five doubles. He’s been a key part of the Padres surprising baseball early in the season by being over .500 and just two games off the pace in the NL West. Of course, that’s all the more reason to be cautious with his first real injury as a major leaguer.
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“We care a lot about him, we think a lot of him, we love the way he’s started his big league career,” Padres manager Andy Green said on Monday. “We’re going to take care of him. We’re going to put him in the position where he has his best shot at health for a long period of time.”
With Tatis going on the DL, the Padres called up an extra pitcher to help reinforce their bullpen rather than an infielder. Utility man Greg Garcia started at shortstop for San Diego on Monday. However, Green moved Manny Machado to shortstop for Tuesday’s game, inserting Ty France at third base.
Machado is a natural shortstop, so it would make sense to move him to that position while Tatis is out, especially if the youngster is out for longer than the minimum of 10 days. That would leave France and Garcia to split duties at third base. France only made his big league debut last week. He’s not considered a top prospect despite getting off to a raging start in triple-A, hitting .423 with nine home runs and seven doubles in just 19 games. Based on those results, the Padres might as well slide Machado to shortstop to give France a chance to play.
Of course, San Diego could also bring up shortstop prospect Luis Urias to fill in for Tatis. The 21-year-old projects as San Diego’s second baseman of the future, playing alongside Tatis in the middle infield. However, he’s off to a strong start offensively in triple-A and should be able to handle playing shortstop in the big leagues.
Oddly enough, the Padres have quite a few options for how to replace Tatis. That should allow them to be a little more cautious and patient with his hamstring injury. Obviously, the Padres will need Tatis back if they want to remain in contention in 2019. But with the 20-year-old phenom, it’s all about the long-term. That is why the Padres shouldn’t rush Tatis back from his first stint on the major league Injured List.