WASHINGTON – The San Diego Padres’ master plan for assembling a super team capable of challenging for a World Series title ran into a significant snag Friday with star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. suspended for the rest of the season due to a positive drug test.
Tatis, who hasn’t played at all in 2022 after undergoing surgery in March to repair a fractured wrist, had just begun a minor league rehab assignment – and he was on the verge of rejoining the Padres as soon as next week.
However, the announcement from Major League Baseball that Tatis tested positive for the banned substance Clostebol abruptly closed the door on the 23-year-old being a part of any playoff push.
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In response to his 80-game suspension that will extend into next season, Tatis issued a statement through the MLB Players Association apologizing to the Padres organization and their fans. He called the result “devastating” and said the positive test was the result of medication he took to treat ringworm.
“That’s his story,” Padres GM AJ Preller told local reporters Friday outside the visitors’ clubhouse at Nationals Park.
“We were hoping that from the offseason to now that there would be some maturity, and obviously with the news today, it’s more of a pattern and it’s something that we’ve got to dig a bit more into.”
Tatis has not played for the Padres in 2022 after he broke his wrist in a motorcycle accident in the offseason.
“I think what we need to get to is a point in time where we trust,” Preller said. “Over the course of the last six or seven months I think that’s been something that we haven’t really been able to have.”
Preller told players about the suspension and manager Bob Melvin also addressed the team shortly before they took the field for their game against the Nationals.
“This is a blow for us. We’ll have to move on,” Melvin said. “I’m glad we made the moves we did at the deadline. We feel like we have a really good team still and sometimes you have to deal with some adversity as a team.”
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Players in the clubhouse echoed Melvin’s comments.
“Very disappointed. That’s the second time we’ve been disappointed with him,” Mike Clevinger, the winning pitcher in Friday’s 10-5 victory, said. “You hope he grows up and learns from this and learns that it’s more than about just him right now.”
“He hasn’t been part of the team all year,” said third baseman Manny Machado. “We’ve gotten to this point so far without him. We were waiting for him to get back and hopefully for him to be a spark plug for the team.”
The Padres improved to 64-51 on the season and are currently in possession of the NL’s third wild-card playoff spot.
The Padres were anxiously looking forward to Tatis, the 2021 NL home run champ, being fully healthy and joining trade-deadline acquisitions Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Josh Hader in their quest for the first World Series title in franchise history.
Instead, Tatis will not only miss the final 48 games of the 2022 regular season plus the playoffs, but his suspension will also extend to the World Baseball Classic next spring and the first 32 games of 2023.
“We have the guys to get where we want to be,” Machado added. “Obviously, with the trade deadline what we did there, we reinforced the team and made the team a lot better.
“We still have the same goal, which is to try and make a World Series and bring a championship to San Diego. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”