PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Fernando Tatis Jr. will continue to make his diving, spinning moves at shortstop rather than in center field, rookie San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Wednesday.
Tingler said he has no plans to give the Padres’ most dynamic player even a few spring training reps in center field. That thought popped up in the offseason when the Padres had preliminary talks with Cleveland about shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The rumors gained brief traction after the Padres traded center fielder Manuel Margot to Tampa Bay for reliever Emilio Pagán on Saturday.
“We have considered a couple center fielders; we never once discussed, honestly, Tatis being out there,” Tingler said in his opening news conference of spring.
Tatis’ aggressive style of play contributed to him playing only 84 games last year. He thrust himself into the race for NL Rookie of the Year with his spectacular play before a stress reaction in his lower back ended his season in mid-August. The 21-year-old also missed time early in the season with a hamstring injury.
Between the two injuries, he hit .317 with 22 home runs, 53 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and a .590 slugging percentage.
Tingler said all the medical reports on Tatis were positive and there will be no physical limitations on him during spring training.
“He’s been out here early, he’s swung the bat, he’s running, he’s playing defense, so we do not expect any limitations,” the manager said.
Tatis was among numerous Padres who reported early. Pitchers and catchers reported Wednesday and position players officially report Monday. The first full-squad workout is Tuesday.
Tingler, who was hired on Oct. 24, praised Tatis’ defense while noting the Padres’ overall need for defensive improvement.
“The first thing that radiates out is just his talent,’’ Tingler said. “It is really easy to go through a highlight video and just watch extraordinary play after extraordinary play. One thing we have to do as a group — we’re probably going to have to do a better job of taking care of the baseball, collectively with routine outs, catching the ball, throwing to the right base. If we can clean that up a little bit, not just at shortstop, on all areas, that’s going to be one of the areas of emphasis and we believe that is part of winning baseball.’’
Tingler, 38, replaced Andy Green, who was fired with eight games to go last season, when the Padres finished last in the NL West at 70-92. He previously served in the Texas Rangers organization as an assistant general manager, big league coach, minor league field coordinator and minor league manager.
Along with having a rookie manager, the Padres have new brown and gold uniforms and new players, including Pagan, outfielder Tommy Pham, second baseman Jurickson Profar and left-handed reliever Drew Pomerantz.
The Padres attempted to swing a trade for Mookie Betts, the 2018 AL MVP with Boston, but lost out to the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
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