Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. set to make return

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. hasn’t suited up for a game in the majors since the last day of the 2021 season, but he could take the field in uniform as early as Thursday night.

Tatis completed his 80-game performance-enhancing drug suspension and is expected to be available when the Padres open a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.

Major League Baseball suspended Tatis last August after he tested positive for Clostebol, a banned performance-enhancing substance. That ended Tatis’ 2022 season before it ever began, as he missed the start of the campaign after fracturing his wrist in an offseason motorcycle accident.

In the time Tatis was away, the Padres traded for star outfielder Juan Soto last season and signed All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts last December. Those additions, combined with the emergence of middle infielder Ha-Seong Kim in Tatis’ absence, led the club to announce in the offseason that Tatis would move from shortstop to the outfield when he returns to San Diego.

Ahead of a rehab stint with Triple-A El Paso, Tatis felt confident in his ability to bounce back.

“I feel like I’m going to have enough time, when I come back to the big leagues, to be ready, and I’m definitely going to be back to the same player that I was before,” Tatis said, before proving his point by exploding at the plate during his time with the El Paso Chihuahuas.

Tatis notched seven homers in 33 minor league at-bats with a slash line of .515/.590/1.212.

Tatis, 24, was an All-Star in 2021 and is a two-time Silver Slugger winner. He has 81 career home runs with 195 RBIs and 52 stolen bases in 273 career games. He led the National League with 42 home runs in 2021 while batting .282, and he finished third in NL MVP voting.

Prior to the 2021 season, Tatis signed a 14-year, $340 million contract with San Diego.

–Field Level Media

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