Here’s what Fernando Tatis Jr. has to say about playing the outfield

Will Fernando Tatis Jr. play the outfield or shortstop when he returns from injury? Here’s what he had to say…

After nearly three full months of regular-season play, the San Diego Padres are finally getting close to welcoming Fernando Tatis Jr. back to the active roster.

Tatis arrived at spring training with a fractured wrist which needed surgery. His recovery hasn’t been as fast or seamless as he or the team hoped, resulting in his estimated return getting pushed back several times.

The young star’s 2022 debut can’t come soon enough, as the Padres’ offense is seriously struggling without him. They’re barely above league average in runs scored, and are below the mean in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. Among all 15 National League teams, they’ve hit the second-fewest home runs.

Defense is another story. While Tatis has been sidelined, the Padres have fielded one of the best defenses in the league. Their .720 DefEff (Defensive Efficiency) and 2,176 putouts are the best in the NL, rank third in assist, and they’ve allowed the second-fewest runs per game, second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres even set a defensive record early in the season, opening the season with 11 consecutive error-less games; they continue to have the lowest error count in the NL.

Tatis, while an excellent hitter, could be a better shortstop, and in his absence, Ha-Seong Kim and C.J. Abrams rose to the challenge. Tatis is clearly the best hitter of the three, but their defense may push him to the outfield, and he says he’s willing to do that again (he played right and center when he was injured last season).

“Wherever they need me. We’re going to talk. But I’ve been [rehabbing] mostly at shortstop so far. I’ve been moving around everywhere, but it’s been mostly shortstop so far.

I’ve been moving around, just testing it out. It’s good, staying active.”

Tatis still hasn’t been cleared to begin a hitting regimen, but he’s been staying busy honing his glovework.

The question of Tatis’ defensive position will also be partially decided by what the Padres do ahead of the trade deadline. They’ve been linked to New York Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo, as well as Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Both have won Gold Gloves for their defense, and at times, have been excellent hitters. Whomever they get will impact where Tatis ends up when he returns.