The sound of deflation filled Petco Park in the bottom of the third inning Monday. It bordered on silence.
Fernando Tatis Jr., the recent recipient of the longest contract in major-league history, had gone to the ground after swinging and missing at a curveball from San Francisco’s Anthony DeSclafani. Tatis would remain there, crumpled in pain, as Padres manager Jayce Tingler and a team athletic trainer rushed to his side. After about a minute, the shortstop got to his feet and walked off the field with his right hand on his left arm.
So ended Tatis’ 148th game in the majors. It is unclear when he will play his 149th. The early indications are that it could be awhile.
The Padres later said Tatis had exited with a left shoulder subluxation, the medical term for a partial dislocation. This was not the first time he had suffered a similar injury, though the severity this time was different.
Tatis, 22, left a spring training game late last month with left shoulder discomfort. Tingler revealed after the exhibition that the same shoulder had occasionally given Tatis trouble for years. Tatis would later say he first encountered shoulder trouble in rookie ball, which he played in 2016.
In recent days, Tatis and the team had downplayed the severity of his recurring shoulder problems. The Padres were aware of those issues in February, when they signed him to a 14-year, $340 million extension. Both sides said Tatis had been able to successfully manage the shoulder, an assertion backed by the numbers; through the first 147 games of his career, Tatis was hitting .298/.372/.577 with 40 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Tingler said Tatis did not suffer a shoulder subluxation in a game during the shortened 2020 season, when Tatis vied for the National League MVP award.
Monday’s scene prompted a new level of concern.