David Chao, MD: Fernando Tatis, Jr. Injures His Same Shoulder For A Fifth Time This Year

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This is the fifth time this season where Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has hurt the same left shoulder. We chronicled the four previous subluxation injuries and stated it was inevitable that it would happen again

By modifying his play, Tatis has done well but now it is the same thing all over again. Surgery is a matter of when, not if as we discussed back in early April

The first incident this year (3/15) was a headfirst slide into home during spring training. The next (3/23) was in the field making a play at shortstop before the regular season. The third was during an early meaningful game (4/5) on a hard swing followthrough. The fourth happened (6/20) on a diving play in the field. Now he has done it on a feet first slide into third. 

The five episodes happened in different ways but are actually very similar. His arm is caught out away from his body each of these times where it becomes vulnerable to instability. Reports are that he had some episodes before he signed his big contract this offseason. Tatis and the team have done as well as they can to protect him from situations of risk. He has changed his swing to not let go of the bat with the top right hand. He has avoided headfirst slides. Unfortunately, Tatis is just a dynamic player and this feet first slide into third left his left arm behind and when caught on the dirt, shifted out again.

He has played well this season, yet it is still the fifth time this season. It is a matter of time before it happens a sixth time this year. Technically, it has happened many more times than this over the years and the team was reportedly aware before the record new contract this offseason. Surgery with labral repair is inevitable.

Certainly, another MRI is coming. If there is no new structural damage, the team and player could decide once again to rehab and keep playing since the Padres are very much in contention for a playoff spot. Labral repair will come when there is more damage, risk of long-term issues or the team is out of playoff consideration. Tatis and the team have made the decision for a calculated risk to continue through four episodes, but now there is a fifth.
Kudos to Tatis for playing through quite effectively so far this season with 31 home runs and 23 stolen bases. I hope he can continue to be effective without causing further damage. The question is when will the player and team say enough is enough. Surgery is a matter of when, not if.

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Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. Thanks Dr. Chao. I was worried the guy might keep injuring this thing repeatedly. You just hope it’s not doing more damage and prolonging his recovery from upcoming surgery into next year now. The Pads have a playoff shot but the longer he goes the longer recovery will take into next season. I’ve heard the return from labrum surgery is no quick matter, and getting it back to full strength is a chore.

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