Under The Knife 8/15/22
Tatis Suspension, Explained
FERNANDO TATIS JR, SS SDP (suspension/fractured wrist)
Fernando Tatis Jr tested positive for a steroid some time around the All Star break. Reported as clostebol, a testosterone ester that’s been used since the East Germans, banned from the beginning, and easily tested for, with a detectable period of at least 31 days with new testing techniques. That’s not what anyone looking to get away with usage would select. I’m not going to weigh in on the ringworm excuse, since Dr. Rany Jazayerli’s done a nice job on that in this thread.
A variant, methylclostebal, is available on the internet (as is most everything, if you know where to look) and has been involved in a couple cases of tainted supplements. In some cases, manufacturers will “sprinkle in” steroids to get a big effect from a purportedly non-steroidal supplement. In others, it’s simply poor cleaning, leaving traces from one product on the machines that make make another.
A source suggested that Tatis and others may be using a common ointment or spray used in Mexico called Trofodermin. It’s marketed widely in several countries and is cheap and effective for the indications according to a doctor I spoke with in Italy. However, the dosage for this is far lower than what one would use for the muscular gains most associate with steroids, though it would have the same detectable metabolites. MLB’s drug program has “one drop” limits for any steroid metabolite, so any dosage would lead to the same result and clostebol in all its forms is clearly banned, so that’s no excuse.
One key here is that this steroid or any other would have no physical effect on the bone healing. In fact, most studies indicate that excessive use of anabolic steroids can be negative for bone health and healing, especially when it comes to tendons and their attachments. Given that Tatis’ wrist was pinned, there’s even less reason to try and augment the healing in this way, and less logic that this was the reason it was ingested. That’s not to say it wasn’t, but it’s far from best practices.
There’s also been a suggestion that Tatis should take the time off to have the shoulder surgery that was considered and declined last off-season. While the timing would be positive, I’m doubtful that Tatis’ reluctance to have the surgery has changed. It’s a very involved surgery that would involve not only the rehab but then what could be years of adjustments. Cody Bellinger made it back, but while I can’t blame his struggles on his shoulder surgery, I can’t rule it out either. Tatis’ experience with surgery and rehab hasn’t been hard, but it’s been slow. The quick surgery on his wrist was able to be done without general anesthetic, something I’m told Tatis does not like.
The other factor here is that while the shoulder remains a risk, he was playing and playing well through his rehab. He also rehabbed it in the off-season, focusing on strengthening it. We don’t know if Padres or other doctors have re-examined it and said whether surgery is still needed. I get why some are calling for it, but it remains Tatis’ choice.
Finally, the question of Tatis’ wrist will be something of a mystery heading into 2023. We don’t know how many games he’ll miss to start the season, due to the suspension carrying into the playoffs. He’ll be able to be at spring training, so we’ll have a very good idea next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tatis more involved this winter, especially if he’s eligible to play in the World Baseball Classic. I couldn’t get an answer on that before publish.