Fernando Tatis Jr. To begin rehabilitation task

19:16: Manager Bob Melvin said Tatis will begin the assignment either tomorrow or Sunday (via Dennis Lin of Athletic). He is expected to play both shortstop and center field in the minors.

18:35: star parents Fernando Tatis Jr. is nearing a return, as Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Twitter link), that he is headed to Double-A San Antonio. He will soon begin a rehab assignment there, the final step before returning to Petco Park.

It’s been a long road for Tatis, who broke a bone in his left wrist during the offseason. He underwent surgery in mid-March and the club expressed hope at the time that he would be back in mid-June. That obviously turned out not to be the case. Although there were no reports of meaningful setbacks, Tatis did not recover at the pace he or the team had hoped. He has gradually built up through various baseball activities in recent weeks, and he is now positioned to get into the game for the first time this year.

Position players may have up to 20 days on rehabilitation assignments. When Tatis formally begins his assignment in the next few days, he could spend just under three weeks in the minors before the team has to bring him up to the majors or shut him down again. They wouldn’t have sent him out if they had foreseen the final result, so the club are obviously of the belief that he will be ready by the middle or end of this month.

Tatis’ upcoming return will add another star to a lineup already loaded with firepower. Manny Machado is in the MVP conversation and the Friars brought in John Soto and Josh Bell in one of the most monumental trades in MLB history. Add Tatis — owner of a .292/.369/.596 line through his first three seasons — to the mix, and the Padres will insert a standout top of the lineup for the stretch run.

With Tatis out of action, the bulk of the shortstop work has gone to Ha-Seong Kim. The former KBO star has overcome a rough rookie MLB season to hit roughly league average (.248/.329/.370) while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense through 98 games. with Bell, Jake CronenworthMachado and another deadline acquisition Brandon Drury around the infield, San Diego will have an embarrassment of riches on the ground. Tatis has expressed a willingness to move from shortstop to the outfield if necessary, with center field seemingly the most likely spot in that case. Soto has right field signed up for, and Jurickson Profather is having the best year of his career in lefty. Trent Grishamwho has stumbled to a .197/.293/.365 line in just 400 trips to the plate, seems like he’ll be the odd man out most days when everyone is healthy.

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