If 24 losses in 34 games weren’t enough, then the scene that unfolded in the fifth inning on Saturday demonstrated just how far the San Diego Padres have fallen.
There was Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, third-base coach Bobby Dickerson and a conflict that stretched far beyond that video clip of the dugout exchange and deeper into an organizational leadership void, according to a report from The Athletic.
Since A.J. Preller was hired as general manager in 2014, the Padres have cycled through three managers, with the most recent — Jayce Tingler — facing “increased scrutiny and second-guessing” in the San Diego clubhouse, the report said.
The viral dust-up started when Tatis struck out looking with one out in the inning. He stayed for a bit in the right-handed batter’s box, head tilted in disgust, and back in the dugout between innings, Dickerson yelled “Let’s f–king go” in an attempt to motivate Tatis, according to The Athletic. Machado is then seen walking toward Tatis and yelling “I don’t care, go play baseball. You go play baseball … It’s not f–king about you.”
Tingler had been ejected from the game for arguing with the home-plate umpire after Tatis’ at-bat, but the report said that the dugout scene may have occurred even without the ejection.
Machado and Tatis, both under contact in San Diego until at least 2028, weren’t made available for interviews after Saturday’s game, but Tingler said that “I’m sure people on the outside think it’s whatever they think, but we’re family. We’re not gonna discuss the details, but we care. There’s passion, there’s frustration. Those are all emotions that are natural, and those things happen. But it comes down to a group of men caring.”
Machado has attempted to pass down insights and lessons that he learned from seasons in Baltimore alongside Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Adam Weiters, but still occasionally becomes “preoccupied with matters beyond his control,” according to The Athletic.
When the Padres held first place in the NL West on May 30, Tatis’ average hovered around .300 — 15 percentage points higher than it is now. They started the season winning 18 of their first 34 games, including eight of their first 11, and on May 30 held a 34-20 record. Since, they’ve had stretches of two or more wins just four times, and have managed just five wins in September. San Diego dipped from first in the division down to second, then second down to third. The team fired pitching coach Larry Rothschild on Aug. 23 with just over a month left in the regular season.
Injuries, especially to the starting rotation, began to pile up too, and everything boiled over on Saturday in St. Louis. The Padres blew their two-run lead over the final two innings, losing 3-2 to the Cardinals and falling 3.5 games out of the National League’s second wild-card spot. And they’ll open a three-game series against the first-place Giants, a divisional opponent they’re attempting to catch, on Tuesday night, looking for just their third win in 11 games.