SAN DIEGO – Fernando Tatis Jr. apologized privately to his San Diego Padres teammates for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, then publicly expressed remorse for the 80-game suspension that will keep him off the field well into next season.
“There's no other one to blame than myself,” Tatis admitted Tuesday.
“I’m really sorry for my mistakes,” he said. "My dreams have turned into my worst nightmares.”
The star shortstop helped make baseball fun again in San Diego with a youthful swagger and flashy talent in his first three big league seasons. But his suspension just as he was about to return from a broken wrist has been a damper as the Padres scrap to hold onto a wild-card playoff spot, and has even led to some fans turning against him.
“It’s going to be a very long process to gain everybody’s trust again, to gain that love back that I have stabbed straight to the heart,” he said.
Looking and sounding downcast, Tatis spoke in the Padres' dugout while sitting next to general manager A.J. Preller.
“Sorry fans, good baseball fans, and I’m learning. I’m maturing,” he said.
“I’m going to remember how this feels and I’m going to make myself never be in this position ever again,” said the 23-year-old Tatis, who was dressed in a red polo shirt and jeans.
Tatis also announced that he will have surgery as soon as possible on his troublesome left shoulder. He resisted getting the surgery in the offseason and then broke his left wrist in a motorcycle accident in his native Dominican Republic in December.
Tatis was suspended 80 games on Aug. 12 after MLB said he tested positive for Clostebol, an anabolic steroid. Tatis originally said he accidentally took a medication to treat ringworm that contained the banned substance.
Asked about the ringworm story, Tatis offered a clarification, saying he had been dealing with a skin infection for some time, took some medication and tested positive soon after.
“There’s no excuses. I need to do a way better job knowing what is going inside my body,” he said.
"I haven’t made the right decisions in these past two weeks, month, even the start of the year. I made a mistake and I regret every single step I have taken,” he said.
The son of a former major leaguer, Tatis said he has "let so many people down, mentioning owner Peter Seidler and Preller by name. “I have failed every fan, I have failed my country, I have failed my family, my parents.”
Some fans have taped over the “Tatis Jr." on the back of jerseys they wear to games. The Padres have removed some large banners at Petco Park bearing Tatis' image, edited him out of a hype video celebrating their City Connect alternate uniforms and scuttled a Tatis bobblehead night on Sept. 7 in favor of a Juan Soto T-shirt giveaway.
Tatis was getting close to making his season debut after rehabbing following surgery on his fractured left wrist in mid-March.
Tatis addressed his teammates in the clubhouse earlier Tuesday.
“He was sad,” said left fielder Jurickson Profar, who worked out with Tatis in the Dominican in the offseason.
“It's not easy. You make a mistake and then you have to talk in front of your teammates because you let them down,” Profar said. “It's not an easy situation but he stayed strong with it.”
Profar said Tatis “has a long way in front of him. For him, it's going to take forever. He wants to play baseball again. I heard he's going to do the surgery, too. It's a long road back. ... I know he’s going to work hard and come back and show people he can play great baseball.”
Profar said the Padres players “forgive him. He's our teammate, he's our brother, and we're going to be behind him.”
Manny Machado, who has carried the Padres offensively all season, said Tatis said what his teammates wanted to hear.
“It's a hard conversation you've got to have,” Machado said. "He came up here and spoke in front of a big group, which is not easy in the circumstances that it is. It was a first step. I'm glad he did it and now we can put this behind us, everyone in here as well, and continue to play baseball. He's going to be cheering for us, rooting for us always, and we're going to be here for him for whatever he needs.
“We're all family here, we all back each other up,” Machado said. “He's a generational talent and he's going to have to learn from his mistakes. We've all made them. We all get forgiven and we move forward and we grow from it."
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