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Fernando Tatis Jr. Says He Will Work to Repair His Image


SAN DIEGO — In his first public comments since being suspended for 80 games on Aug. 12 for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the San Diego star Fernando Tatis Jr. sat within the Padres’ dugout with A.J. Preller, the team’s president of baseball operations, by his side Tuesday and spoke with contrition and emotion for 25 minutes.

The general public appearance followed a players-only meeting contained in the Padres’ clubhouse during which Tatis said he apologized to his teammates, listened to what they “placed on the table” and had them share “some tough love.”

“I actually have let so many individuals down,” Tatis said during a roughly four-minute opening statement during which he spoke without notes, pausing several times to gather his thoughts as he talked. “I’ve lost a lot love from people I actually have failed.”

Specifically, he mentioned the San Diego organization, Preller and the team owner Peter Seidler, before adding: “I actually have failed town. I actually have failed my country. I actually have failed my family, my parents. I’m really sorry for my mistakes.

“I’ve seen how my dreams have become my worst nightmare.”

Tatis was suspended when Clostebol was discovered in his system during a test earlier this summer. Initially, he said in an announcement that he took the substance to treat ringworm. In San Diego on Tuesday, he backed away from the ringworm explanation but remained vague.

“Let me make clear on ringworm story: I’ve been coping with skin infections over the course of the years,” Tatis said, noting that he got “this medication” across the time that he was tested, which he said was in June. The medication, he said, was obtained while he was home within the Dominican Republic. He said he didn’t seek the advice of with the Padres’ medical staff.

“It was a silly mistake,” he said. “It was me being reckless. It was me not going to the those that may also help me. I’m regretting all of that. But at the tip of the day there’s no excuses and no one responsible but me.”

Tatis, 23, signed the longest contract in baseball history with the Padres in February 2021, a 14-year, $340-million deal that each the club and the player known as a “statue contract.” The term referred to many pondering that he’s a “generational” player whose profession production and long-term contract would mix to maintain him in a spot that eventually would construct a statue in his honor.

He was the starting shortstop for the National League in that summer’s All-Star Game but hasn’t played this season due to a broken wrist suffered during an off-season motorcycle accident within the Dominican Republic. He was on an injury-rehabilitation task within the minor leagues and was expected to make his 2022 debut with the Padres inside a matter of weeks when the club and the game were stunned by the announcement of the suspension, which can carry over into the 2023 season.

“We’ve talked about relationships, any relationship price having there’s going to be some great moments and there’s going to be some difficult moments,” Preller said. “I’ve talked to Fernando rather a lot about mistakes. All of us make mistakes, I’ve made loads of mistakes because the G.M. of this team.

“The secret is the way you learn from those mistakes, the way you grow from those mistakes, what you do going forward.”

Within the immediate future, Tatis suggested he was going to have surgery on his left shoulder to repair damage attributable to chronic dislocation over the past few seasons. The shoulder dislocated 4 times last season. The Padres wanted him to have it surgically repaired last off-season but Tatis had declined.

But while on the injury-rehabilitation task for his wrist, he said, he felt the shoulder bothering him and admitted serious about it in cases equivalent to opting to not dive headfirst right into a base.

“And I feel like once I come back and begin every thing throughout, I have to be one hundred pc so I do know what I can do,” Tatis said.

Responding to a matter in Spanish, Tatis, through a Padres translator, called this “probably the most terrible time of my life. I’ve had trouble sleeping.”

The Padres seemed glad to get the meeting over with and move on. Manager Bob Melvin said that he didn’t think the meeting “could have gone higher” and that “within the baseball world you forgive, and so long as he’s honest like he was, in some unspecified time in the future it’s time to maneuver on.”

Though Manny Machado, Tatis’s All-Star teammate, declined to disclose details of the players-only meeting, he offered some empathy.

“Ultimately, at the tip of the day, we’re all human and all of us make mistakes,” Machado said. “It just sucks in our situation, and in his situation, that it’s all around the world.”

Tatis said he knows the road back can be an extended one but said he is prepared to begin down that path.

“I feel I can regain everybody’s trust and love down the road,” he said. “It’s not going to take a few days. It’s going to take a really very long time. I’m looking forward to that challenge. At the tip of the day, I’m still 23. That’s not an excuse. But I’m saying, I’ve got an extended time in front of me.”

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