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Tatis nearing full strength, 'really excited' for 2023 return

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San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. is chomping at the bit to put his lost 2022 season behind him.

Now several months removed from wrist and shoulder surgeries, Tatis said he's nearly back to full strength. The 24-year-old - who remains suspended for his positive performance-enhancing drugs test last August - is back in San Diego doing full workouts and started hitting this week in anticipation of spring training.

"I'm really excited," Tatis told Kevin Acee and Annie Heilbrunn of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I feel like this is one of the years there's gonna be more emotion, and I'm definitely looking forward to it. I'm definitely looking forward to just being back on the field."

Tatis fractured his wrist in a motorcycle accident last offseason. Originally expected to miss three months after his first surgery, his absence was dragged out into August.

Just before completing his rehab assignment, he was handed an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test, shocking the baseball world. As a result, he had to watch from home as the Padres advanced to the NLCS for the first time since 1998. During the unexpected downtime, the team convinced him to finally have surgery on his troublesome shoulder; doctors also revisited his wrist with a second procedure to fix some lingering issues from the fracture.

"I'm glad I got it," Tatis said of the shoulder surgery, while also adding that his wrist is almost fully healed. "It feels way better. (I am) way confident. I feel like I'm gonna have my swing 100% back this year."

There's still some mystery surrounding Tatis' return, as he'll likely move to a new position in 2023 following the signing of fellow star shortstop Xander Bogaerts. He'll also start the regular season on the restricted list while serving the final 20 games of his suspension, although he can still participate in the Padres' spring workouts and Cactus League games.

No matter where he plays on the diamond, Tatis feels like he can hit the ground running and resume being the superstar-caliber player of his first three seasons.

"To me, it's just baseball. This is the thing that I've been doing since I had memory," he said. "The same time I learned how to walk, I was swinging a bat. On the baseball side, I'm definitely not scared of what's going to happen or how my body is going to react."

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