SAN DIEGO — Fernando Tatis Jr. has yet to formally address his San Diego Padres teammates in the wake of his stunning suspension, but Jurickson Profar, one of his closest friends on the team, said he has been speaking with him « every day. «
« He’s devastated, » Profar said Thursday when asked about Tatis’ state of mind. « He feels really bad. »
Six days earlier, while the Padres were in Washington, DC, Major League Baseball announced that Tatis had tested positive for the anabolic steroid Clostebol. MLB suspended him for 80 games, ending a season that never began.
Tatis, 23, was in the final stages of his recovery from a wrist injury that he likely suffered during an offseason motorcycle accident. Now he’s in the process of repairing relationships. That task began Thursday, with a face-to-face meeting with Padres president of baseball operations and general manager AJ Preller, a source with knowledge of the situation said. Over the weekend, Tatis is scheduled to meet with Padres chairman Peter Seidler, who signed off on his historic 14-year, $340 million extension in February 2021.
Tatis is also expected to address his teammates before the end of the week, the source added. But Padres manager Bob Melvin said Thursday that possibility is « still kind of up for debate, if and when that’s going to happen. »
Profar has been urging Tatis to address the team, and it sounds as if his peers would welcome it.
« We just wanna hear him be genuine and honest in here, » Padres outfielder Wil Myers said. « What happens in here stays in here. As far as the trust being broken — I think that’s obviously true in the respect of what happened, but that’s not to say that from a teammate perspective that can’t be won back. »
Tatis has faced rampant criticism from the outside in recent days for an apparent lack of accountability, a perception that grew after his father, Fernando Tatis Sr., told a Dominican television show it was a « catastrophe » for his son’s reputation to be tarnished because of a positive test purportedly caused by a topical spray used to treat skin conditions (in this case, Tatis and his father said, ringworm).
But Preller, speaking to Padres beat reporters last Friday, was pointed in his remarks on Tatis, saying: « I think what we need to get to is a point in time where we trust. Over the course of the last six or seven months, I think that’s been something we haven’t really been able to have there. »
Tatis opted against surgery on his troublesome left shoulder in the offseason, a path the Padres at one point expected him to pursue. Then came the motorcycle accident in December, which seemingly led to the sore wrist Tatis didn’t tell the team about until reporting for spring training. Now there’s a positive drug test days before he was to complete the rehab assignment that would have put him atop a lineup featuring newly acquired Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury. In response, the team removed his upcoming bobblehead night from its promotional schedule.
Profar, speaking before the start of a four-game home series against the Washington Nationals, stood firmly behind Tatis, saying: « You make one mistake and everyone wants to crucify you. But not me. I’m there to support him and get him through this and get him back on the field whenever he’s eligible to come back and show the world what kind of player he is again. »
Asked if his teammates feel the same way, Profar shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
« I don’t know, » he said.
That remains the central question.
« A lot of things between now and then will dictate that, » said Joe Musgrove, one of the team’s clubhouse leaders. « He’s our teammate still, and he’s gonna be in our clubhouse, so we’re gonna have to find a way to get on the same page and get past this. I don’t know what that’s gonna look like yet, but as the time comes it’ll be a little clearer. »