Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was on the verge of returning to the field for the San Diego Padres after he recovered from a fractured wrist, but now he will reportedly be returning to speak to his teammates for a very different reason.
Tatis was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy after testing positive for Clostebol, meaning he will not play a single game during the 2022 campaign since he had already been sidelined.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted he was in the middle of a minor league rehab assignment while trying to return from the injury he suffered from a motorcycle fall when news of the suspension broke.
Acee also reported Tatis would meet with Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller on Thursday and then speak to his teammates as a group in a separate meeting.
That is notable because some teammates and Preller did not exactly hide their feelings regarding the suspension, with the president of baseball operations questioning the maturity at play with the situation:
"This is the second time we've been disappointed with him," pitcher Mike Clevinger told reporters. "You hope he grows up and learns from this and learns that it’s about more than just him right now. I think we're going to be just fine. Look at this clubhouse. We really don't need anybody else. It'd be nice to have somebody else, but we don't need anybody else. We got everything we need right here."
For his part, Tatis said he "inadvertently took a medication to treat ringworm" as part of a statement regarding the suspension.
Outfielder Wil Myers called the decision to meet with teammates "a big step," while pitcher Joe Musgrove explained it will be ideal to hear from the source:
"It's very important. Everyone has got different feelings in here on the whole situation. More than anything, we want to forget about it. We didn't get any worse with him not coming back. It's just that late life, that spark plug we're not getting. Most of us have moved on. We've put it behind us. We don't want to think about him more than we have to. But this is good. We deserve to hear from him and hear the truth of it from his mouth."
While the Padres are still in wild-card position without Tatis, he would have provided a major spark to their World Series chances.
The two-time Silver Slugger led the league with 42 home runs in 2021 and can impact the game in several ways. He also figured to be the face of the franchise in San Diego for the foreseeable future after he previously signed a 14-year, $340 million contract extension.
The suspension makes the front office's ability to land Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury and Josh Hader ahead of the trade deadline all the more important, but San Diego still would have been far more dangerous with Tatis in the lineup for the stretch run.