Tatis apologizes to Padres, fans: 'No excuses'

August 24th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Fernando Tatis Jr. addressed reporters on Tuesday afternoon, taking a contrite tone as he spoke publicly for the first time since he was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance.

"I would like to start today just by saying how truly sorry I am," said Tatis, speaking from the home dugout at Petco Park. "I am really sorry. I have let so many people down."

Tatis, who was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol, spent the past few days apologizing to members of the organization, and he apologized to his teammates on Tuesday.

"I know I have a lot of love I have to gain back, and I have a lot of work to do," he said. "It's going to be a very long process to gain everybody's trust."

Tatis said he took Clostebol as part of a medication to treat a skin infection beginning in June, without checking with team doctors. He said he continued using that medication until he tested positive in late July. Tatis considered an appeal for a couple weeks, but he said that when it became apparent he wasn't likely to win that appeal, he accepted the suspension, which was officially handed down on Aug. 12.

"At the end of the day, there's no excuses," Tatis said. "I need to do a way better job on what is going inside my body. There's no excuses on these actions. … It was a stupid mistake. It was me being reckless."

Additionally, Tatis noted that he will have surgery to repair the shoulder issue that led to multiple subluxations last season. The team was hopeful Tatis would undergo that surgery last offseason, but he opted against it then. That surgery will happen "ASAP," Tatis said, and he expects to be ready to play when his suspension comes to an end next April/May.

In the meantime, Tatis says he will remain around the team, though he's banned from the ballpark during games. He met with teammates on Tuesday in a players-only meeting, marking the first time he'd done so since the suspension. Based on the accounts of those involved, Tatis was sincere in his apology, which was widely accepted within the Padres' clubhouse.

"We've all made dumb mistakes that we regret," said Manny Machado. "But we've just got to move past it and learn from it and hold yourself accountable. Today, he came in here and spoke to the group, said what he needed to say. At the end of the day, we're all family here."

Said right-hander Joe Musgrove: "It's not an easy conversation to have. For him to come in and face the team, face-to-face, and be honest with us and let us know what happened, that's what everyone wanted."

On the night Tatis' suspension was announced, several of his teammates had strong reactions to the news. Tatis said he understood every word of it.

While the Padres fight for their playoff lives, Tatis has not played a game this season. He was involved in a December motorcycle accident that was likely the cause of his left wrist fracture. That injury kept Tatis out for the season's first four months. His suspension will now keep him out for the remainder of this season and postseason as well as 32 games in 2023. Any games the Padres play in the 2022 postseason will count toward the suspension, which would reduce the number of games he'll have to sit out next year.

"I just let them know … that it was going to change, that I'm going to take better steps moving forward, that I was going to make sure that all of this never happens again," Tatis said.

Of course, regaining trust inside the Padres clubhouse is one thing. Regaining trust outside of it is another. Once presumed to be the future face of baseball, Tatis' reputation has been tarnished with his recent suspension.

When he's on the field, Tatis has been one of the most exciting players in the sport, with two top-five MVP finishes, two first-team All-MLB selections and a career .292/.369/.596 slash line with 81 homers in his first 273 career games. With a PED suspension to his name, what would Tatis say to the people who question the validity of those numbers?

"It has got nothing to do with it, but at the same time, I've given those reasons to think that way," Tatis said. "It's up to me now to start looking to the future, and, like I mentioned before, start making those changes."

Tatis' apology extended beyond his positive test. He expressed remorse for the motorcycle accident, saying he wished "in the first place, I wouldn't have gotten on the motorcycle."

"Any relationship that's worth having, there's going to be some great moments, and there's going to be some challenging moments," said Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller. "I've talked a lot with Fernando about mistakes. We all make mistakes. I've made plenty of mistakes here as the general manager of this team, as I'm sure Padres fans will let me know from time to time.

"But the key is how you learn from those mistakes. How you grow from those mistakes."

On Tuesday, Tatis resolved to doing so.

"I know there's been a lot of talk out there, but it's with actions," Tatis said. "The actions are going to speak for myself in the future. There's going to be a whole new story out there, and there are going to be changes out there. It starts today."