Fernando Tatis Jr. avoids surgery but heads to injured list with shoulder injury

The San Diego Padres have avoided a major disaster with Fernando Tatis Jr., but will still be without their star shortstop for a minimum of 10 days due to a "slight labrum tear" in his left shoulder.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller said Tuesday that Tatis' shoulder popped in and out of place when he swung and missed at a pitch in a game against the San Francisco Giants the night before. 

An examination revealed some damage to the shoulder, but Preller said there was no inflammation, and Tatis' bone structure and rotator cuff looked good.

The Padres will put Tatis on the injured list "to be safe," Preller said, but expect him to return to action after the minimum of 10 days. Preller said Tatis will rest and rehab his shoulder while on the IL, but doctors don't believe there is any significant risk of re-injury once he's ready to return.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is helped off the field by a trainer and manager Jayce Tingler after injuring his shoulder. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports)

This offseason, the Padres signed Tatis, 22, to a 14-year, $340 million contract — with the expectation of having an MVP-caliber shortstop and charismatic talent as the face of the franchise. 

However, injuries could be the one thing that derails those plans. 

Tatis made the Padres' opening-day roster in 2019, but suffered a hamstring injury in just his 28th career game, sidelining him for five weeks. A stress reaction in his back ended his rookie season on Aug. 13, with just 84 games played and a tantalizing slash line: .317/.379/.590 and 22 home runs. 

Like every other player, the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed his 2020 season, during which he played in 59 of 60 games and finished fourth in NL MVP voting. 

Now, just five games into a highly-anticipated 2021 season, he is dealing with injury once again. However if he should miss only 10 days, it seems like the best news the Padres — and baseball fans — could have possibly expected.

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