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SAN DIEGO — With Fernando Tatis Jr. nearing the end of his steroid-related suspension, there was a thought within the San Diego Padres to maximize his time in the minor leagues. The Triple-A affiliate with which Tatis was playing, in El Paso, Texas, was headed for a road trip at the start of this week. But the Padres’ Single-A affiliate would stage a home game Tuesday in Lake Elsinore, California, a mere 75 miles north of San Diego. Perhaps, some thought, Tatis could see more live pitching there in the buildup to his highly anticipated return later this week.

The Padres ultimately deemed that unnecessary.

“He’s in a pretty good place now,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said from the first-base dugout Monday afternoon, a few feet from where Tatis stretched with teammates prior to a home series against the Atlanta Braves.

Tatis had arrived at Petco Park several hours earlier, on the heels of a sizzling hitting display during what amounted to a minor league rehab assignment, to go through individual workouts and then take batting practice with his teammates. The plan is for Tatis to do that for three consecutive days — and perhaps sneak in a simulated game in-between — before being activated for Thursday’s road game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. As part of his suspension, Tatis is allowed to take part in major league on-field activities until ballpark gates open to fans.

Thursday’s game, at Chase Field in Phoenix, will mark the end of Tatis’ 80-game suspension and the first time he plays in a regular-season game since the end of 2021. What followed was an offseason motorcycle accident that likely caused a broken wrist, then a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance, Clostebol, just as he was making his way back.

Tatis, making the transition from shortstop to right field, shook off a slow start to spring training and dominated the competition while playing for the El Paso Chihuahuas, batting .515/.590/1.212 with seven home runs in eight games. Five of those homers came in a stretch of seven at-bats on Thursday and Saturday. With the Padres, he’ll lead off — with Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts batting behind him — and won’t face any restrictions on playing time.

“It’ll be great,” Melvin said. “You saw the numbers there, leading up — it looked like he was seeing the ball pretty good. We’ll just try to bubble-wrap him, get him to Arizona, and he’ll be in that first game there.”

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Fernando Tatis Jr. rejoins Padres as suspension nears end