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Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. exits game vs. Phillies with apparent leg injury

The outfielder appeared to tweak something while chasing a ball in right field and was later forced to leave.

Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres at bat against the Philadelphia Phillies during Game 1 of a split double header at Citizens Bank Park on July 15, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a disappointing first half left them under .500 at the All-Star break, the next two weeks will be critical to determining whether the San Diego Padres will be buying or selling at the trade deadline. The team had ripped off seven wins in their last 10 as they try to climb back into the NL Wild Card race, but that effort may have just gotten much harder on Saturday. Superstar outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. was forced to exit the nightcap of San Diego’s doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies with an apparent leg injury.

Tatis Jr. appeared to tweak something while going after a ball in right field. He remained in the game for his next at-bat, but after striking out he was replaced in the lineup Brandon Dixon.

The team has yet to issue any sort of update on Tatis Jr.’s status, but we’ll likely know more after the game. It’s hard to overestimate how big a blow any sort of extended absence would be for a Padres team that’s already been underperforming at the plate. Since returning from suspension in late April, Tatis Jr. has immediately resumed being among the most dynamic two-way players in the sport, slashing .287/.343/.530 with 17 homers and 14 steals in 71 games — while establishing himself as among the very best defensive right fielders in baseball.

Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto have been just about the only two of San Diego’s many stars to have actually played like it so far in 2023, as Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado have gotten off to slow starts. The Padres went all-in while building this core, a core built around its biggest names, and they were already struggling with depth issues even at full health. San Diego entered play Saturday nine games back in the NL West and six back of the final NL Wild Card spot.