Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. suspended 80 games for positive drug test

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 25: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres looks on prior to the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Saturday, June 25, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/M (Getty Images)

San Diego Padres dynamo Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the brighest, freshest stars in all of Major League Baseball, was suspended 80 games on Friday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

The penalty imposed by MLB was effective immediately, meaning the shortstop cannot play in the majors this year for the postseason-contending Padres. He will miss the remaining 48 regular-season games this season and the first 32 next year.

MLB said the suspension — making Tatis one of the most prominent players penalized for PEDs — also will knock him out of playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

Flashy at the plate and in the field, the 23-year-old Tatis was an All-Star last season when he led the National League with 42 home runs. He had not played this season after breaking his wrist in the offseason, but was expected to rejoin the Padres next week to boost a lineup that recently added star outfielder Juan Soto.

In a statement released by the players’ union, Tatis said he was "completely devastated" and apologized to Padres management, his teammates, MLB and "and fans everywhere for my mistake."

"It turns out that I inadvertently took a medication to treat ringworm that contained Clostebol," he 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 have no excuse for my error, and I would never do anything to cheat or disrespect this game I love," he said.

Freddy Galvis and Dee 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.

Johaug, one of Norway’s most decorated female cross-country skiers, tested positive for the steroid clostebol. The Norwegian ski federation said the drug came from a lotion given to her by team doctor Fredrik Bendiksen to treat sunburn on her lips during high-altitude training in Italy in August.

Players who test positive for PEDs are ineligible for the postseason that year.

Tatis became one of the biggest MLB players suspended for PEDs since testing with penalties started in 2004, joining Alex Rodriguez (2014 season), Manny Ramirez (50 games in 2009 and 100 games in 2011), Robinson Canó (80 games in 2018 and 2020 season) and Miguel Tejada (105 games in 2013).

Tatis had been on the injured list this season after breaking his left wrist — believed to be in December in a motorcycle accident in the Domincan. He had surgery in mid-March.

On Aug. 6, Tatis began a minor rehabilitation assignment with Double-A San Antonio. He was 2 for 9 with a double and a triple in four games.

"We were surprised and extremely disappointed to learn today that Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Prevention and Treatment Program and subsequently received an 80-game suspension without pay," the Padres said in a statement. "We fully support the program and are hopeful that Fernando will learn from this experience."

The Padres traded for Soto earlier this month in hopes of making a run deep into October. They had hoped a roster that included Soto, Tatis and fellow slugger Manny Machado could give them a better chance at the first World Series championship in team history — now, they’ll have to make that try without one of those key pieces.

Tatis won’t be able to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC next March. Dominican fans had been salivating at the prospect of a bruising lineup that included Tatis, Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rafael Devers and José Ramírez.

The penalty will cost Tatis about $2.9 million.

Tatis 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.

"There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than on the field competing with my teammates," Tatis said. "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."

"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," he said.

The penalty was announced shortly before the Padres played at Washington. San Diego began the day at 63-51 and holding the final of the three NL wild-card spots.