Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. takes huge step forward in injury recovery
Given the fact that he sat out the 2022 season due to injuries and a PED suspension, it's easy for many to forget that San Diego Padres slugger Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the most interesting and consistently excellent hitters the game has to offer. He is eyeing a triumphant 2023 return.
Once Tatis' suspension expires, the Padres will need to make sure that he can get back to his old self from a physical point of view. In fact, San Diego is counting on him serving as one-fourth of a dominant core that also features Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts.
Given the fact that there are some real doubts about how long San Diego can keep this team together from a financial point of view, the Padres need Tatis to hit the ground running. Tatis is showing that he is on the verge of getting back in the swing of things.
Tatis is finally taking batting practice after having been kept on ice for months. San Diego needs star production out of Tatis to maximize their short-term potential, and it looks like the All-Star is doing everything he can to regain his old, record-breaking form.
Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. is taking batting practice
Tatis led the NL with 42 home runs in 2021 despite missing 32 games. Per 162 games, Tatis is averaging an insane 48 jacks and 31 stolen bases while hitting .292 and posting a 160 OPS+. That is elite offensive production any way you want to slice it.
Tatis appeared to be the long-term answer at shortstop, but the addition of Xander Boagerts moved trade chip Ha-Seong Kim over to second base while Tatis moves to a corner outfield spot. He's new to the position, but his speed and athleticism should give him great range.
Tatis has put up elite production year after year despite never having a lineup anywhere close to his level, so the idea of giving him even more protection in the heart of the order could help him match or exceed his pre-injury numbers if everything goes as planned.
The Padres have placed a ton of trust in Tatis, and last year was a major letdown. In a situation that would have led to most players losing their clubhouse, Tatis has just as much backing as ever. Cranking 40 dingers will wash away the stench of failure from 2022 permanently.