The MLB announced earlier today that Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte would be suspended the next 80 games for illegally using performance-enhancing drugs. Just 13 games into the season, the Pirates will be without the services of Marte until sometime in the middle of July.
Starling Marte was a first-time All-Star selection last season and finished with a batting average of 0.311 in 129 games played. This year, he started the first 13 games of the 2017 MLB season with two home runs and seven RBIs for the Pittsburgh ball club. Instead of fulfilling many peoples’ expectations to carry on momentum from his extraordinary 2016 season, Starling Marte will be forced to watch the next quarter of the baseball season from his couch. Marte is the first major name to be busted for PEDs in 2017.
ESPN reported just a few hours ago on the suspension and even caught a statement from Marte in the Pirates’ locker room.
“Neglect and lack of knowledge have led me to this mistake with the high price to pay of being away from the field that I enjoy and love so much. With much embarrassment and helplessness, I ask for forgiveness for unintentionally disrespecting so many people who have trusted in my work and have supported me so much. I promise to learn the lesson that this ordeal has left me. God bless you.”
The lifetime 0.288 hitter during his five seasons with Pittsburgh expressed remorse for his suspension but did not consider the impact it would have on his franchise in the near future. The Pirates have been on a downward spiral since finishing 98-64 in the 2015 MLB season. After losing to the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card game that season, the Pirates put up a disappointing season in 2016 in which they finished 78-83. Now in 2017, the Pirates are off to a shaky start with a record of 6-7 and will now be without their best player on offense.
Starling Marte left a hole in the Pirates lineup that will near be impossible to fill with the amount of production he has given the team in recent years. Playing in over 600 games during his five years with the club, Marte has over 600 career hits and is the first Pirate to hit a home run during the first pitch of his first career at bat since Walter Mueller in 1922. Pittsburgh will now look elsewhere to find a spark at the top of their batting order over the next several months.
The specific PED Starling Marte was caught taking is better known as Nandrolone. Nandrolone is a type of steroid that has been used less and less throughout the course of sports history. It is rarely seen in drugs ingested through the mouth and is more commonly injected through a needle. With that being said, Marte must have had a pretty strong idea of what he was putting into his body before getting caught.
If there were to be an awkward storyline to this suspension, this would be it. Pittsburgh had already asked former center fielder Andrew McCutchen to switch positions to right field for defensive purposes but now must move him back to his original position at center. Essentially, Pittsburgh has told McCutchen he is their second best player when it comes to playing center field, which may make him more unhappy than what he already is.
Adam Berry of MLB followed up on the reports of the suspension and even quoted team president Frank Coonelly in his article.
“The Pittsburgh Pirates fully support MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement, including the very tough penalties for violations of its prohibitions. We are disappointed that Starling put himself, his teammates and the organization in this position. We will continue to fight for the division title with the men who are here and will look forward to getting Starling back after the All-Star break.”
It is only a matter of time before the Pirates’ feel the aftermath of Starling Marte’s suspension.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]