On the verge of returning to action after wrist surgery that had kept him out all season, Fernando Tatis Jr., the 23-year-old star shortstop and outfielder of the San Diego Padres, has been suspended for 80 games for a violation of Major League Baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program.
In the announcement of the suspension on Friday, M.L.B. specified that Tatis had tested positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance that is a synthetic anabolic-androgenic steroid. As the Padres have fewer than 80 games remaining this season, Tatis’s year is over before it started.
In a statement released by the players’ union, Tatis claimed he did not intentionally take the drug that he tested positive for.
“It turns out that I inadvertently took a medication to treat ringworm that contained Clostebol,” he said. “I should have used the resources available to me in order to ensure that no banned substances were in what I took. I failed to do so.”
Tatis apologized to the team and said he had “no excuse for my error.” He also said he would begin serving his suspension immediately.
For San Diego, the suspension is a huge blow to a team that made a splash at the trading deadline by acquiring several new players, including Juan Soto, a 23-year-old superstar outfielder. While the team has itself in position for a wild-card spot even without Tatis, the return of their young star — whom the team signed to a 14-year $340 million contract last year — had been expected to add yet another jolt in their hopes of contending for the first World Series title in franchise history.
With the 80-game suspension, Tatis instantly becomes among the most prominent players to face a penalty during M.L.B.’s testing era. Other stars to have faced suspensions include Manny Ramirez in 2009 (50 games) and 2011 (100 games), Miguel Tejada in 2013 (105 games) and Alex Rodriguez in 2014 (162 games).
More recently, Robinson Canó served an 80-game suspension for a violation of the policy in 2018 and then was banned for a full year in 2020.
Tatis, whose father was also a major leaguer, was an All-Star last season when he led the National League with 42 home runs. He injured his wrist in a motorcycle accident in the off-season, and when it did not heal properly he had surgery during spring training. At the time, he was expected to be out for three months or more.
On a rehab assignment in the minors this week, Tatis had widely been expected to return to the Padres next week.