Under The Knife 8/16/22
Two big situations, so it seemed that putting out a shorter UTK today would be better than waiting. It’s my newsletter, I can do what I want, so let’s get to it:
FERNANDO TATIS JR, SS/OF SDP (suspension)
Fernando Tatis Sr provided some context and confirmation in what we know about why Fernando Tatis Jr will be serving an 80-game suspension:
The spray is sold in the Dominican Republic and is widely available, according to a simple internet search and a call to a PD coach there. (That’s about $18 at current exchange rates.) The lost salary is a lot for not reading a label, but anything ending in -bol ought to be a warning sign to most. I’m still unclear on when or even if Tatis Jr was in the Dominican, since this isn’t something available in the US. This is very close to what I was told and wrote in Monday’s newsletter. I strive for perfection, but sometimes, close is pretty good.
The other key factor, and something I’ve been asked about, is when the test occurred, when the PA and team was apprised of the results, and why there was a delay, if any. The standard collect/send/test protocols are very strict and have been cleaned up a lot since the Ryan Braun case. Testing is not backed up or backlogged, even with the international shipping. Tests are processed in days and even with B-sample testing, it’s seldom more than a matter of a week or two. The appeals process is where things get gummed up and unless that happened and then Tatis said he elected not to appeal, the idea that this test took place months ago doesn’t track.
As well, MLB’s testing program has no incentive to hold a result and drop it on Tatis and the Padres as he’s ready to return. If this could be proven, the missed games Tatis had on the IL could be pushed as games suspended and pay adjusted, but there’s no incentives here, nor does it match with what we know of previous cases.
There was a non-tested period during the lockout, but testing resumed with players reporting to camp. We do not know when Tatis was tested, though he’s likely to have had at least two tests by this point in the season and as many as four, as part of the JDA, and if he tested positive, he’d have an accelerated schedule to prove clearance.
“Clearance” is something that bears some further explanation. Let’s say Joe Shlabotsky orders some vitamins off the Internet, gets a batch, and takes a handful on June 1. One of those pills is tainted with Deca-Durabolin. Ol’ Joe tests positive on June 15th, but now has metabolites from that one pill that can last up to 18 months. On an accelerated testing regimen, it wouldn’t be fair to have him test positive two more times, from the same one time issue in this example, and be banned for life. Instead, the athlete is considered on one positive for that specific metabolite until he tests negative for it. That can be months, even years, but should be predictable.
The crux of this is that if Tatis’ explanation is to be believed, he knows when he took the banned substance, when he was tested, when he was informed, and how many times he’s been tested since. He’s under no obligation to tell us any of this information, nor can MLB under the terms of the JDA, but he could.