Sports | August 16, 2022 2:27 pm

Fernando Tatis Sr. Calls Son’s MLB Suspension a “Catastrophe.” He’s Right.

The 23-year-old Padre was hit with an 80-game suspension for testing positive for the anabolic steroid clostebol

Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres watches warm-ups from the dugout.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is going to miss all of the 2022 season.
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty

Speaking on Monday on The Midday Show in the Dominican Republic, Fernando Tatis Sr. called his son’s 80-game suspension from Major League Baseball for PED use, which will keep Fernando Tatis Jr. off the field for the rest of the season including the playoffs, a “catastrophe for baseball.”

Injured during the offseason in a motorcycle accident, Tatis Jr. had already begun a minor league rehab assignment and was close to rejoining the San Diego Padres and a lineup that now includes former Nationals superstar Juan Soto when his suspension for testing positive for the anabolic steroid clostebol was announced. The first player in major league history with 80 home runs and 50 stolen bases within the first 300 games of his career, Tatis Jr. is one of baseball’s brightest stars, as his father noted.

“This is a catastrophe what has taken place, not just for Jr., but for all of baseball,” said Tatis Sr. “There are millions of fans who are gonna stop watching baseball now. It’s a total disappointment for Dominican fans, fans throughout the world, for something so insignificant that wasn’t worth it. It’s a topical. What came out positive in Jr.’s body is something that doesn’t give you strength, first of all, doesn’t amplify your [weight-training] regimen, that’s second, doesn’t have any testosterone, that’s third, doesn’t contain absolutely anything that would give you an edge in the game. What has occurred is a catastrophe for baseball.”

The elder Tatis may not be correct in his claims about the nature of what his son did or didn’t take and the potential advantages it might provide, but his point about San Diego’s 23-year-old superstar missing the entirety of the 2022 season due a mix of injury and suspension, even if largely within his control to prevent, is a good one.

One of the most exciting players in baseball due to his memorable look, swagger and combination of speed and power (42 home runs last season to lead the National League), Tatis Jr. is one of the faces of baseball despite the fact that he will have played in only 273 of a possible 546 regular-season career games by the end of 2022. A core player on a team that is trying desperately to create some buzz in a market that has lacked it historically, he is a star with national appeal that casual fans who appreciate stolen bases and homers instead of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) can latch onto. (For what it’s worth, Tatis Jr. led the NL in Offensive WAR in 2021.)

Baseball needs players like Tatis Jr. — who also missed the final seven weeks of the 2019 season because of a stress reaction in his lower back and missed portions of last season dealing with a troublesome left shoulder — on the diamond and MLB should be doing what it can to make sure he’s out there. Does that mean the league should look the other way when someone like Tatis Jr. tests positive for a banned substance? Maybe. But, at the very least, waiting until the offseason to officially suspend Tatis Jr. so he could rejoin the Padres for a playoff push and a postseason run would have been prudent. It wouldn’t have been fair, but it would have prevented a catastrophe.