Fernando Tatis Jr. Shoulder Subluxation: MLB Injury Watch & Timetable for Padres Star

Kyle Trimble is a licensed physical therapist here to provide MLB injury analysis on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s left shoulder subluxation.

San Diego Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. left Monday’s game against the San Francisco Giants with a left shoulder subluxation. This came as a result of swinging at an outside breaking ball in the third inning, immediately falling to his knees in obvious pain before exiting. 

Tatis injured his shoulder on the follow-through when the weight of the bat continued to carry his arm backward, stressing the labrum, leading to the subluxation. This is known as batter’s shoulder, a relatively newer term to describe posterior instability at the shoulder. Had he hit the ball, the counter forces to the shoulder driving the ball into the field would have slowed down the bat speed enough to reduce stress on the shoulder during the follow-through. 

Fernando Tatis Jr. Shoulder subluxation

General overview of shoulder anatomy. (Credit: Shoulderdoc.co.uk)

To understand the injury, the labrum helps deepen the shoulder socket by creating a cartilage ring for the humeral head to articulate with the glenoid fossa of the scapula in order to allow the shoulder to stay in place. When a labral tear occurs, a part of that rim tears, creating instability within the joint during movement. Think of a golf tee that has a chip out of the top. When the golf ball is placed on top, it does not sit as securely and is more likely to fall off.

Examples of labral tear locations. (Credit: Windsor Upper Limb)

Unfortunately, this was not Tatis’ first shoulder injury this season. He had suffered what was termed shoulder soreness two weeks ago which was also possibly a shoulder subluxation based on the reported mechanism of injury. Reports also indicate that he has a history of shoulder issues dating back to the minor leagues. 

This didn’t stop the Padres from giving him his monster deal, but this injury may drastically affect his season. It has been announced that he will be placed on the 10-day IL to allow for rest and rehab of the shoulder. While 10 days will help, he may need longer to ensure that the shoulder is stable enough to reduce the incidence of recurrence. There are no established timelines for this in literature, but taking two or three weeks wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility until he returned.

As of now, Tatis will attempt to play through this injury, he runs the risk to continue to sublux the shoulder in both fielding and hitting, causing further damage. I suspect that he will be more hesitant to lay out for defensive plays and his bat speed may be compromised. He may also lay off the breaking balls to the outside, limiting his abilities at the plate. 

Literature on posterior tears is limited, but SLAP tears managed non-operatively return to play at 39 percent after a round of physical therapy. That same group returned to prior performance 26 percent of the time. These are not fantastic numbers considering the money he is being paid and the potential he holds. Tatis will eventually require surgery, ideally in the offseason. Surgical outcomes are fairly successful with 75-to-91 percent of players returning to pre-injury form. 

MLB Betting & Fantasy Baseball Outlook

If you’re in a re-draft league, consider what you can get for Tatis if he returns to the lineup and sell while his perceived value is high. While he has a slight tear right now, this has the potential to get worse with repeated injury to the area. This will be something that occurs again, it’s only a matter of when. Hold onto him in dynasty and find a replacement.

As for betting, the loss of Tatis could really hurt the Padres’ chances at a deep postseason run. The smart bet is to go with the Dodgers, especially in the NL West. Tatis is tied to the Padres; the successes and failures of their season may literally rest on his shoulders.

Kyle Trimble is a licensed physical therapist who also works as an injury spotter for Dr. David Chao. Kyle has extensive experience in outpatient orthopedics, skilled nursing, acute care hospital, and home care. He’s also a member of Bills Mafia and runs the website Banged Up Bills.

Disclaimer from Kyle: My opinions are my own. Any thoughts I have on the injuries are based on media reports, my knowledge of the injury, and speculation based on the information currently available including video and print media. This information is subject to change based on the information released by the team.

After reading Kyle’s update on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s shoulder subluxation, get more MLB betting and fantasy baseball tips:

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