San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis suspended 80 games — here’s everything you need to know

The baseball world was rocked on Friday afternoon when it was revealed that one of the game’s brightest young stars, Fernando Tatis Jr., had tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance and was handed an 80-game suspension from Major League Baseball.

Tatis, the 23-year-old superstar shortstop who had already emerged as one of the faces of the sport, was just days away from the wrist injury that had sustained him all season. Hot on the heels of a blockbuster trade for Juan Soto, his San Diego Padres anxiously awaited his return as they battled for a title. Now Tatis’ season is over and the Padres’ championship hopes are severely diminished.

But there is so much more to it than that.

Here are some of the most pressing questions about Tatis, the Padres and the MLB.

What does this mean for Tatis?

We’ll get to the big points later, but first the basics: Tatis’ 80-game suspension begins Friday and lasts through the remaining 48 games of the regular season. How long it takes to 2023 depends on how deep the Padres play into the postseason when they get there (they went into play Friday with a one-game margin in sixth and final playoff spot in the National League) . Tatis is also not expected to represent the Dominican Republic at next year’s World Baseball Classic.

Tatis is one of football’s most captivating stars, but over the course of his first four seasons he will only have played 273 regular-season games out of a possible 546. He missed the last seven weeks of the 2019 season with a lower back stress reaction, spent all of 2021 grappling with a restless left shoulder and will ultimately miss all of 2022 on factors that seemed well under his control: A wrist injury that probably happened during an off-season motorcycle accident, and now a positive drug test.

Tatis, who could lose nearly $3 million in salary from the suspension, issued a 198-word statement saying he “accidentally took a drug to treat tinea that contained clostebol.”

Tatis later added that he was “completely devastated”, writing: “There is no other place in the world I would rather be on the field than competing with my teammates. After initially appealing the ban, I realized that my mistake was the cause of this outcome and for that reason I have decided to serve my ban immediately. I look forward to joining my teammates on the field again in 2023.”

What does this mean for the Padres?

It couldn’t be more disappointing. Go back just 10 days ago when fans lined up at the gates of Petco Park, clamoring to get inside the stadium for a midweek take on the struggling Colorado Rockies. It was because the team had just traded for Soto, yes, but it was bigger than that; there was a palpable excitement, not only for what the Padres were now, but for what they would be very soon.

The Padres bared their farming system while pursuing Soto and others because they saw an opportunity to try, a belief largely ingrained in what the team had accomplished without Tatis. With him back in the lineup, they saw a legitimate championship contender. And with the additions of Soto and Josh Bell and Brandon Druy and Josh Hader, they saw a team that could rival the Yankees and Dodgers and Mets and Astros and any of the sport’s giants.

The Padres will still be good, of course. They are still expected to make the playoffs, with Ha-seong Kim continuing to offer excellent defense at shortstop and Trent Grisham continuing to be a mainstay in midfield. But it won’t be the same. This is a huge missed opportunity, and this isn’t a franchise that can absorb many of them.

Led by Peter Seidler, the Padres took a big leap of faith and invested heavily in the major league roster in hopes that local fans — in a city that recently lost the NFL — would flock to them. Tatis embodied this approach in many ways. They rewarded him with a massive $340 million 14-year extension in February 2021, billing him as a “statuary contract.” And they essentially compiled a star-laden list around him. Tatis didn’t live up to his ending, largely because he didn’t act responsibly as evidenced by the two reasons why he will miss the whole of 2022.

The Padres’ statement was noticeably terse and in no way supportive, ending with the following line: “We fully support the program and hope Fernando will learn from this experience.” Later Padres General Manager AJ Preller alluded to trust issues while speaking to reporters in Washington, DC

What does this mean for MLB?

It’s a black mark on the game whenever one of its star players is arrested for alleged cheating (an aspect of which Tatis denies). Tatis’ suspension is the same as Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Miguel Tejada, Manny Ramirez and Ryan Braun. He’s such a big star, he means so much to the sport.

Tatis embodies the type of athlete that Major League Baseball wants to market – bilingual, handsome, charismatic, flashy, extremely talented. Tatis will now have to live with this stigma for the rest of his career, the extent of which cannot yet be estimated. His image could never fully recover.

What does this drug do?

Clostebol is a testosterone-boosting anabolic steroid banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and has been on the MLB Banned List since testing of steroids began in 2003. Clostebol was one of the substances that Dee Gordon tested positive for in 2016, heels of a hit title. Freddy Galvis also tested positive for it in 2012.

Tatis is a much bigger star, however, and is the only player in major league history with 80 home runs and 50 stolen bases in the first 300 games of his career. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he is now the third player in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to finish in the top three on MVP voting and then miss the entire following season. The others were Moises Alou, who missed the 1999 season with a cruciate ligament rupture, and Sandy Koufax, who quit after winning a Cy Young in 1966.

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34390882/san-diego-padres-star-fernando-tatis-suspended-80-games-here-everything-need-know San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis suspended 80 games — here’s everything you need to know

Emma Bowman

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