Preller said he found out about the suspension late Friday afternoon. He said he hadn’t spoken yet to Tatis, but had seen his player’s statement.
“Again, that’s his story. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it yet. Ultimately that’s his explanation,” Preller said. “I think the biggest thing just from our standpoint, from a baseball standpoint, there’s a drug policy in place. He failed a drug screen. For whatever reason.”
“Ultimately, he’s suspended and can’t play. That’s the biggest thing. That’s a player’s responsibility to make sure he’s within compliance of that. He wasn’t. Ultimately supportive of that and want to make sure he understands that,” he said.
The son of a former big leaguer, Tatis made his MLB debut in 2019 and quickly became a smash hit on the field and with the fans. He has a career .965 OPS and has played shortstop and in the outfield.
Tatis became one of the biggest MLB players suspended for PEDs since testing with penalties started in 2004, joining Rodriguez (2014 season), Ramirez (50 games in 2009 and 100 games in 2011), Robinson Canó (80 games in 2018 and 2020 season) and Miguel Tejada (105 games in 2013).
Tatis had been on the injured list this season after breaking his left wrist — the accident is believed to have been in December in a motorcycle accident in the Domincan Republic. He had surgery in mid-March.
“I think we’re hoping that from the offseason to now there would be some maturity. Obviously with the news today it’s more of a pattern and something we’ve got to dig a little more into,” Preller said.
“I’m sure he’s very disappointed. At the end of the day, it’s one thing to say. You’ve got to start showing it with your actions,” he said.
Preller added: “I think what we need to get to is a point in time we trust [him]. Over the course of the last six or seven months, that’s been something that we haven’t been really able to have there.”
“I think from our standpoint, obviously he’s a great talent, he’s a guy we have a lot of history with and do believe in, but these things only work when there’s trust both ways.”
On Aug. 6, Tatis began a minor-league rehabilitation assignment with Double-A San Antonio. He was 2 for 9 with a double and a triple in four games.
The Padres traded for Soto in hopes of making a run deep into October. They figured a roster that included Soto, Tatis and Machado could give them a better chance at the first World Series championship in team history — now, they’ll have to make that try without one of those key pieces.
“Hearing that he’s going to get suspended for 80 games and not be a part of what we’re trying to accomplish here is something you don’t want to hear before a game and don’t want to hear overall. It’s just a terrible thing,” Machado said.
“We were waiting to get him back and for him to be a sparkplug,” he said.
Added manager Bob Melvin: “This is a blow for us. … I’m glad we made the moves we did over the deadline.”
Tatis won’t be able to play in the WBC early next year. Dominican fans had been salivating at the prospect of seeing a bruising lineup that included Tatis, Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rafael Devers and José Ramírez.
Tatis will forfeit $1,510,989 of his $5 million salary this year, covering the final 55 days and 48 games of the season. He will lose approximately $1.39 million of his $7 million salary for the first 32 games of next season, with the exact number to be determined by how many days he misses.
“There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than on the field competing with my teammates,” Tatis said.
“I have taken countless drug tests throughout my professional career, including on March 29, 2022, all of which have returned negative results until this test,” he said.
The penalty was announced shortly before the Padres played Washington. San Diego began the day at 63-51 and holding the final of the three NL wild-card spots.Preller said the team had about 15 minutes to talk about Tatis’ suspension before taking the field.
“We haven’t had [Tatis] for this season, so it’s not like we’ve had him in the lineup and now we won’t,” Preller said. “I think to a man all the guys in that clubhouse believe we can win. They know we can win. Never been about one player.”