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The news that San Diego Padres Superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, resulting in an 80-game suspension that rocked the baseball world on Friday night.
It also rocked an organization with World Series aspirations.
The Padres went all-in at the Major League Baseball trade deadline, exchange for a superstar outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell. The deal immediately catapulted San Diego into the World Series conversation, especially with Tatis Jr. expected to return to the diamond at some point in the second half.
Tatis missed the first three months of the season recovering from wrist surgery in the offseason.
Last weekend, Tatis Jr. traveled to San Antonio to begin rehab ahead of his 2022 debut. Thought Tatis Jr. alongside Soto, Bell and Manny Machado would be scary in any launcher in October.
Now the Padres will try to recover from the disappointment of losing their All-Star shortstop for the rest of the regular season, the playoffs and part of the 2023 season.
“It’s very disappointing,” Padres president of baseball operations AJ Preller said Friday night, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “He is someone that, from an organizational point of view, we have invested time and money in.
“When he’s on the field, it is a difference maker. You have to learn from situations. We were hoping that between the offseason and now there would be some maturity, and obviously with today’s news, it’s more of a pattern, and it’s something we need to dig a little deeper. …I’m sure he’s very disappointed. But, at the end of the day, it’s one thing to say it. You have to start showing with your actions.”
The Padres inked Tatis Jr. to a massive contract in 2021, agreeing to a 14-year, $340 million extension.
It’s the second time in recent months that Tatis Jr. has let his teammates down, with the wrist injury reportedly due to an off-season motorcycle accident.
“Very disappointed,” Padres pitcher Mike Clevinger said. “This is the second time we’ve been disappointed with him. You hope he grows up and learns from this and learns that it’s not just about him right now.”
Preller told reporters that trust between the two sides needed to be built, as it has been lacking over the past few months.
“We’re going to start digging into the shoulder and the wrist; we’re going to lean into that a bit more now because we’ll have more time to have conversations there,” Preller said. “I think what we have to achieve is a moment where we have confidence.
“Over the last six or seven months, I think that’s something we haven’t really been able to have there.
“From our perspective, he’s obviously a great talent, he’s a guy we have a lot of history with and believe in. But those things only work when there’s trust in the players. two meanings. I think it’s going to be something that we’re going to have a lot of conversation and time to talk to Fernando about. It’s something that, clearly, if we’re going to have a partnership and a real relationship, we’re going to have to make sure that is solid.
The Padres are 64-51 and two games up Milwaukee Brewers for the last wildcard spot in the National League.