San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Tatis’ suspension, announced by MLB on Friday, is effective immediately, meaning the All-Star shortstop cannot play in the majors this year. In a statement, Tatis said he is not appealing the ban as it was his “mistake” that led to the positive test.
“It turns out that I inadvertently took a medication to treat ringworm that contained Clostebol,” Tatis said. “I should have used the resources available to me in order to ensure that no banned substances were in what I took. I failed to do so.
“I want to apologize to [team owner] Peter [Seidler], AJ [Preller], the entire Padres organization, my teammates, Major League Baseball and fans everywhere for my mistake. I have no excuse for my error, and I would never do anything to cheat or disrespect this game I love. I have taken countless drug tests throughout my professional career, including on March 29, 2022, all of which have returned negative results until this test.”
Everything you need to know about Tatis’ 80-game suspension
Tatis will be on the restricted list for the final 48 games of the Padres’ regular season. Any postseason games the Padres play this season will count toward Tatis’ 80-game total. The remainder of the suspension will be served at the beginning of the 2023 season.
“I am completely devastated,” Tatis said in the statement. “There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than on the field competing with my teammates. After initially appealing the suspension, I have realized that my mistake was the cause of this result, and for that reason I have decided to start serving my suspension immediately. I look forward to rejoining my teammates on the field in 2023.”
Tatis was on a minor league rehabilitation assignment at the time of the suspension after missing the first four months of the season because of a broken left wrist, the result of a motorcycle crash in December. Tatis didn’t have surgery on the wrist until mid-March.
Padres general manager Preller called the suspension “very disappointing” and said the team was hoping to see more maturity out of its young star.
“He’s somebody that from the organization’s standpoint we’ve invested time and money into,” Preller told reporters. “When he’s on the field, he’s a difference-maker. You have to learn from the situations. 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. … I’m sure he’s very disappointed. But at the end of the day, it’s one thing to say it. You’ve got to start showing by your actions.”
Preller added: “I think what we need to get to is a point in time we trust [him]. Over the course of the last six or seven months, that’s been something that we haven’t been really able to have there.
“I think from our standpoint, obviously he’s a great talent, he’s a guy we have a lot of history with and do believe in, but these things only work when there’s trust both ways.”
Freddy Galvis and Dee Strange-Gordon are among the major leaguers previously suspended for using Clostebol, an anabolic steroid that can be used for ophthalmological and dermatological use. It is also banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and Olympic gold-medal-winning cross-country skier Therese Johaug was suspended in 2016 after testing positive for it.
“Shocked everybody,” Padres star Manny Machado said of the suspension after a 10-5 win over the Washington Nationals.
Preller said he found out about the ban late Friday afternoon. He said he hadn’t spoken yet to Tatis but had seen his player’s statement.
“Again, that’s his story,” Preller said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it yet. Ultimately that’s his explanation. I think the biggest thing just from our standpoint, from a baseball standpoint, there’s a drug policy in place. He failed a drug screen. For whatever reason.
“Ultimately, he’s suspended and can’t play. That’s the biggest thing. That’s a player’s responsibility to make sure he’s within compliance of that. He wasn’t. Ultimately supportive of that and want to make sure he understands that.”
MLB said the suspension also will knock Tatis out of playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Tatis, 23, is one of the biggest stars in MLB, the centerpiece of multiple marketing campaigns and in the second season of a 14-year, $340 million contract.
After emerging as a star in his rookie season at 20, Tatis, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound shortstop whose power, speed and penchant for the spectacular won him legions of fans, finished fourth in the National League MVP voting in his sophomore campaign. Last year, he was even better, signing the record deal, finishing third in MVP voting and solidifying himself as one of the game’s finest players.
The Padres collapsed down the stretch but held high hopes for 2022 after hiring Bob Melvin as their new manager. After Tatis’ surgery, San Diego vowed to take his rehabilitation slowly and was teeming with anticipation of a lineup with Tatis leading off, new acquisition Juan Soto hitting second and Machado third.
“Hearing that he’s going to get suspended for 80 games and not be a part of what we’re trying to accomplish here is something you don’t want to hear before a game and don’t want to hear overall. It’s just a terrible thing,” Machado said. “We were waiting to get him back and for him to be a sparkplug.”
Added manager Bob Melvin: “This is a blow for us. … I’m glad we made the moves we did over the deadline.”
After the win Friday night over Washington, San Diego sits at 64-51 and holds a two-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the final NL wild-card spot. The Padres’ odds to win the World Series moved from 13-1 to 16-1 at Caesars Sportsbook following the news of the suspension. San Diego now has the fourth-best odds to win the World Series among NL teams.
The suspension will cost Tatis a maximum of $2.9 million. He will forfeit $1,510,989 of his $5 million salary this year, covering the final 55 days and 48 games of the season. He will lose approximately $1.39 million of his $7 million salary for the first 32 games of next season, with the exact number to be determined by how many days he misses.
In 273 career games, Tatis is hitting .292/.369/.596 with 81 home runs, 192 RBIs and 52 stolen bases.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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