Fernando Tatis Jr.’s suspension breaks Padres’ belief, places onus on newcomers

By Rowan Kavner
FOX Sports activities MLB Author

This was purported to be the Padres’ second.

On Aug. 3, Juan Soto’s contagious power unfold via Southern California. A once-in-a-generation commerce introduced a once-in-a-generation expertise to a metropolis awaiting the spark. San Diego doesn’t have an NBA or NHL group. Its NFL group packed up and left. It’s nonetheless searching for its first title in a present main skilled sports activities league. 

The Padres supplied hope — this yr greater than ever. 

With front-office moxie and possession backing, they compiled the expertise essential to make a push for his or her first World Collection look in 24 years. Trades for Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury supplied purpose to imagine. 

Followers wished to expertise the fervor, a lot so {that a} crowd of 44,652 — the Padres’ third-largest of the season — packed Petco Park for a midweek recreation towards the scuffling Rockies simply to get a glimpse of the newcomers and a really feel for the thrill. 

As thrilled as Padres followers had been with what they’d, it was additionally about what they might be. 

Padres’ new-look roster has electrical debut

Padres' new-look roster has electric debut

Ben Verlander takes a have a look at the house debut of the new-look San Diego Padres and the way they stack up in a loaded Nationwide League.

A five-game dropping skid, together with a three-game sweep by the first-place Dodgers, tempered spirits barely. However the offers weren’t made with early August in thoughts. They had been made for October, when the group can be entire once more. 

Manny Machado had carried a mediocre offense within the first half. Soto turned a playoff hopeful right into a official contender. And as soon as Fernando Tatis Jr. returned? That trio would rival any in baseball — together with the division leaders’ up the freeway.

Earlier than Soto suited up for his new group, the 23-year-old celebrity was requested to check a Padres lineup with everybody wholesome.

“It’s going to be really exciting,” he stated, rising more and more amped as his reply continued. “It’s going to be really tough to go through. I wish good luck to the other pitchers.”

Now, these pitchers will breathe a sigh of aid whereas the remainder of the baseball world laments.

In a span of 10 days, San Diego went from confetti to controversy, from celebration to exasperation. Common supervisor A.J. Preller’s bold strikes lit a fuse within the metropolis, however a celebrity’s actions smothered the flame. 

Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 2022 season ended earlier than it might start.

The injured star, on the cusp of a return, examined optimistic for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance that violates MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Therapy Program and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Company. Tatis will miss the following 80 video games, forcing him out for the remainder of the common season, the postseason and the beginning of subsequent season.

“I’m sure he’s very disappointed,” Preller instructed reporters. “But at the end of the day, it’s one thing to say it. You have to start by showing it with your actions.”

These had been the phrases of a president of baseball operations whose endurance is carrying skinny.

Tatis’ suspension is a devastating blow to a buzzing metropolis and a shock to all of Main League Baseball, which loses certainly one of its rising stars and most recognizable athletes — one who appeared poised to compete this yr on the grandest stage, this time with extra surrounding expertise than ever. 

If the season ended at this time, the Padres would maintain the ultimate wild-card spot. However with a wholesome Tatis, their roster would rival any within the recreation. 

In an announcement, Tatis claimed he inadvertently took a medicine that contained the banned substance in an effort to deal with ringworm. Regardless of the purpose for the optimistic check, the carelessness put a damper on the brewing anticipation in San Diego and a company able to compete now. 

Tatis is the third major-leaguer to be suspended for Clostebol, becoming a member of Freddy Galvis (2012) and Dee Gordon (2016). He’ll forfeit a few third of his $5 million wage this yr and a fifth of his $7 million wage subsequent yr.

“I should have used the resources available to me in order to ensure that no banned substances were in what I took,” Tatis wrote in an announcement delivered by way of the MLB Gamers Affiliation. “I failed to do so.” 

He despatched his apologies to his teammates, the group and baseball followers. Tatis initially deliberate to attraction the suspension, then realized what prompted it and determined to start serving instantly. 

“That’s his story,” an irritated Preller instructed reporters Friday earlier than his group completed an 8-2 win towards the Nationals. “It’s the player’s responsibility to make sure that he’s in compliance. He wasn’t.”

In their very own assertion, the Padres expressed shock and disappointment to be taught of the violation. Preller instructed reporters that he didn’t know concerning the failed check till Friday afternoon. That was lengthy after the Padres leveraged their future to go all-in on the deadline. 

That doesn’t make the strikes a mistake. However would Preller have dealt that many prime prospects for a run this yr if he had recognized his celebrity wouldn’t return?  It’s unattainable to know for certain, although it’s tough to sense any remorse. 

Sure, Bell and Drury will hit free company earlier than Tatis’ suspension lifts. However it was by no means a assure that Tatis can be wholesome this season, neither is it day by day — or ever — {that a} participant of Soto’s caliber turns into out there. If something, Tatis’ absence reinforces the need of the Padres’ acquisitions.

In Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, the Padres have the front-line starters to pose an October risk. In Hader, they added a four-time All-Star on the again finish of the bullpen. Soto, Bell and Drury give San Diego the offensive increase required to make a run to and thru October. Machado introduced the offense thus far, and as Soto demonstrated in 2019, he’s able to carrying it the remainder of the best way when he will get scorching.

“I think we have the guys to get to where we want to be,” Machado stated, protecting the religion after Tatis’ newest blunder put the Padres in one other inauspicious place following the 14-year, $340 million contract he signed in February 2021.

Tatis has performed 273 of a doable 576 video games since his 2019 rookie season, which was restricted to 84 video games as a consequence of a again problem. He handled a shoulder problem final season, although he nonetheless displayed what makes him such a particular expertise, marvelous celebrity and face of the sport, launching a Nationwide League-leading 42 homers. He grew to become the quickest participant ever to 50 homers and 50 stolen bases in a profession. 

However he missed 32 video games, and his group missed the postseason.

Two months later, Tatis damage his wrist in a motorbike accident within the Dominican Republic. The damage occurred throughout the lockout, and the Padres determined to not attempt to recoup any cash or transfer to void the contract, focusing as a substitute on the long-term relationship. Tatis underwent surgical procedure in March after a fracture was revealed.

The damage had stored him out till now. He performed in 4 rehab video games with Double-A San Antonio and appeared near lastly becoming a member of the new-look Padres on the sphere. As an alternative, that second won’t ever arrive.

As we speak, it appears the motorbike incident wasn’t the wake-up name the Padres had hoped. Given the current developments and shattered belief, Preller didn’t rule out revisiting the occasions that led to Tatis’ shoulder and wrist accidents of current years. 

“I think we were hoping that from the offseason to now, that there would be some maturity,” Preller stated. “And obviously with the news today, it’s more of a pattern and something we’ve got to dig a little bit more into.”

The frustrations trickled to the clubhouse. Padres supervisor Bob Melvin stated the information “stunned everybody.” 

Starter Mike Clevinger went a step additional: “It’s the second time we’ve been disappointed with him. You hope he grows up and learns from this and learns that it’s about more than him right now.”

Tatis will transfer to the restricted listing for the ultimate 48 video games of the common season, although his mistake will comply with him lengthy after. It’s a colossal loss for baseball, an enormous disappointment for followers of the sport, an apparent blow to the upstart contenders, and a deflating letdown for a metropolis that, simply 9 days after a euphoric deal, was pulled again down.

That’s to not say one participant extinguishes all hope. Look to final yr’s champions, the Braves, who misplaced Ronald Acuña Jr. after which noticed their midseason additions carry them the space. The Padres nonetheless imagine the group they’ve assembled, although now extra shorthanded than they hoped, can overcome Tatis’ absence come October.

The thrill in San Diego may need taken a success this week. However it nonetheless exists. 

“I think this is as much optimism as they’ve had in their organization’s history,” Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts, a San Diego resident who performed and coached within the group, acknowledged earlier this month. “It wasn’t like this when I was there.”

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports activities. A proud LSU alumnus, he credit his time as a sportswriter and editor at The Each day Reveille for making ready him for a profession masking the NFL, NBA and MLB. Previous to becoming a member of FOX, he labored because the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. When not at a stadium or watching sports activities, Rowan enjoys enjoying along with his canine, mountaineering, operating, {golfing} and reminiscing concerning the Mavs’ 2011 championship run. Yow will discover him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.


Get extra from Main League Baseball Comply with your favorites to get details about video games, information and extra.