Then Hosmer returned to the clubhouse and heard the news that former Padres teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. had been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for Clostebol, a synthetic anabolic steroid.
“It was a shock. You never really see something like coming,” Hosmer said on Saturday. “Haven’t had time to talk to anybody with the Padres about it. It’s just a shock.”
Another Red Sox player was more succinct.
“How could somebody be so stupid?” he said.
That’s a question only Tatis can answer and for now he’s peddling the fantastical notion that he inadvertently took steroids because he had ringworm.
Never mind that a professional baseball player has around-the-clock access to a team of medical professionals who would have happily prescribed an actual cure.
Now, at 23, Tatis will spend the rest of his career playing in the shadow of having cheated. His accomplishments, no matter how often he is tested, will be questioned. As will his character.
Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller, who didn’t learn about the suspension until Friday afternoon, said the team has to work with their shortstop to gain mutual trust.
“That’s going to be something that we’re going to have plenty of conversation and time to talk to Fernando about,” Preller told reporters.
It’s not known if Tatis knew about his failed test prior to the Aug. 2 trade deadline. In his statement, Tatis said he initially appealed then decided to start serving his sentence.
Might the Padres have been less willing to trade five top prospects to the Nationals for Juan Soto and Josh Bell had they known Tatis wouldn’t be able to return this season? That’s a hypothetical question but certainly a valid one.
Under MLB’s drug testing program, a player is under no obligation to inform the team about appealing a positive test.
Still, the Padres signed Tatis to a 14-year, $340 million deal in 2021. That earned Preller the consideration of a call that a suspension was coming down. A contract of that magnitude is more than a legal document, it’s a symbol of forging a partnership with the team. In this case, that seems one-sided.
Tatis has yet to play this season because of a fractured wrist suffered in what were apparently a series of offseason motorcycle accidents. He was four games into a minor league rehabilitation assignment when MLB announced the suspension.
Tatis is a phenomenal talent. He’s one of the young players MLB has built its marketing around after he twice finished in the top four of the National League Most Valuable Player voting. That all crumbles away now.
Like Robinson Cano, you’re left wondering why such a skilled player would resort to steroids.
“Certainly you want the game to be as clean as possible. That’s what everybody wants,” Hosmer said.
Sox manager Alex Cora, who had his own run-in with MLB, understands the stigma that Tatis will carry for the rest of his career.
“You make bad decisions and you have to pay the price,” he said. “This is something, MLB has been on top of it for a while. He’ll learn from this one and move forward. This is a kid with great talent. He’s a very good player. He’ll be back”
For executives around the game, Tatis embodies the risk taken when you sign a player to a long-term deal. It’s about the talent, but you’re also investing in the person.
The Red Sox and Yankees face their own big decisions coming up with players like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Aaron Judge. Is the trust there? They hope so.