Former MLB Pitcher Says He’d Hit Fernando Tatis Jr. Every Time Amid PED Suspension

by Nick Geddes

The San Diego Padres were counting on star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. returning this season to better their chances of going on a World Series run.

Tatis Jr., working his way back after offseason wrist surgery, was then hit with an 80-game suspension Friday for violating MLB‘s performance enhancing drugs policy. Tatis Jr. said in a statement he “inadvertently” took medication which contained a banned substance to treat ringworm. Some players – both former and current – aren’t buying his explanation.

Former MLB closer Jonathan Papelbon recently appeared on WEEI Radio’s “Bradford Sho” podcast and said if he was still pitching, he’d plunk Tatis Jr. every time he enters the batter’s box.

“This whole Tatis stuff, man, it almost enrages me,” Papelbon said. “I worked my a– off so long and so hard and did it the right way. For me, to see something like that, it hurts me so bad. I’ll tell you right now – if I was pitching, every single time I face that dude I’m drilling him. I don’t care if I’m bringing in a run and losing the game.”

Papelbon, a 2007 World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox, added there were other players he’d have no problem brushing off the plate.

“Yeah. Manny Machado. Sammy Sosa. I can go on and on,” Papelbon said. “The thing is, it’s a mutual respect from the players and all that’s gone. I feel like that’s what’s missing from the game. It’s one of those things now, where look, if you’re not protecting your team, it’s like, do you want to give into the bully on the block and keep getting your a– kicked every day or are you going to punch back?”

San Diego Padres Disappointed in Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis Jr., 23, is just a year-and-a-half removed from inking a massive contract from the Padres. General manager A.J. Preller locked up his young phenom with a 14-year, $330 million deal. Tatis Jr. lived up to his high price tag in 2021, bashing a National League-leading 42 home runs to go along with 97 RBIs.

As previously mentioned, however, Tatis Jr. broke his wrist in a motorcycle accident ahead of spring training. He hadn’t appeared in a game this season, and now won’t be eligible to play until Game 33 of the 2023 season. Preller didn’t hide his disappointment with Tatis Jr. while talking to reporters last week.

“He’s somebody that from the organization’s standpoint we’ve invested time and money into,” Preller said. “When he’s on the field, he’s a difference-maker. You have to learn from the situations. We were hoping that from the offseason to now that there would be some maturity, and obviously with the news today, it’s more of a pattern and it’s something that we’ve got to dig a bit more into. … I’m sure he’s very disappointed. But at the end of the day, it’s one thing to say it. You’ve got to start showing by your actions.

 “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.”