Just a week and a half ago, the Padres should have been feeling pretty good about themselves. They were in the playoff position and had just passed a huge trade deadline, landing several major players, including 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto. On Friday, however, the team got a bit of a belly bump. Fellow young star Fernando Tatis, Jr. has been banned from 80 games for violating the league’s drug policy after failing a PED test.
Please note that Tatis suffered a broken wrist in a motorcycle accident during the low season. When asked about the date of his accident, Tatis replied with a question, “Which one?”
Which motorcycle accident? In the same low season?
And on top of that, Tatis has been suspended until next May. He will miss the entire 2022 season, mainly due to poor decision making. There is a phrase I learned a long time ago from a coach that has stuck with me for years. “Manage what you can control.” You can’t control the umpires, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control how the other team plays. You can, among other things, direct your decision-making.
Tatis had a motorcycle accident last season and apparently decided to keep riding the bike. His wrist was injured and he didn’t tell anyone about it until he turned up at the camp in March. These are bad decisions that kept Tatis out of the Padres lineup until August. And now, on top of that, we’ve learned that more problems with his decision-making have resulted in him being out for another 80 games.
Padres General Manager, AJ Preller, had some words that were much harsher than we’re used to from office workers when addressing one of their stars.
“I think we hope there will be some maturity from the off-season until now,” said Preller, via The Athletic. “And of course with today’s news it’s more of a pattern and something that we need to dive into a little more. I’m sure he’s very disappointed, but at the end of the day it’s one thing to say. You have to start by showing it with your actions.”
“I think we need to get to a point in time that we rely on,” said Preller, through San Diego Union Tribune. “Over the course of the last six or seven months, I think that’s something that we haven’t really been able to have.”
Cruel? Probably, but it is very beautiful. Starting pitcher Mike Clevinger had similar feelings on the matter:
Tatis is only 23 years old, but his father played in parts of 11 seasons in the majors. The concept of a responsible player in the major league should not be new.
As one of the most talented players in baseball, Tatis should be responsible for his teammates. Remember, they were in the playoff position last year and collapsed. They played well in his absence and got ready to add some great talent in pursuit of a deep playoff run and arguably the Padres’ first World Series title. Instead, they will have to do without him.
He is also in the second year of a $340 million 14-year contract, meaning he must be responsible for management and ownership. As Preller mentioned, Tatis hasn’t gotten through this so far.
The best guess here is that the PED suspension directly scared Tatis and he will grow a lot between now and when his suspension is served, going into the future with better decision making. But again, shouldn’t the first motorcycle accident have been the wake-up call?