In a statement, the league said Marte tested positive for Nandrolone. Marte will be eligible to return in mid-July. Marte is ineligible for the 2017 post-season if the Pirates were able to advance under the league's drug agreement.
Nandrolone, the anabolic androgenic steroid, has been one of the most commonly used steroids used by professional athletes and bodybuilders for the last many decades.
Marte is in the fourth year of a six-year, $31 million contract he signed in March 2014. The Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder set career highs in several categories last season — including doubles (34), stolen bases (47), batting average (.311), on-base percentage (.362) and slugging percentage (.456) — and played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic last month. Marte, playing in over 600 games during his five years with the club, has over 600 career hits. He is the first Pirate to hit a home run during the first pitch of his first career at bat since Walter Mueller in 1922.
Marte is the second player to be suspended this season for violating Major League Baseball's policy against performance enhancing drugs. Philadelphia pitcher Elniery Garcia, who was on the Phillies 40-man roster, was recently suspended.
Marte, a two-time Gold Glove winner who last year played in his first All-Star Game, has played in all of the Pirates' 13 games to start the 162-game regular season and has a .241 batting average. Suspension of the 28-year-old Dominican is effective immediately.
In a statement, Marte said neglect and lack of knowledge led to this mistake. The Dominican added he with much embarrassment and helplessness asks for forgiveness for unintentionally disrespecting so many people who have trusted in his work and have supported him so much. The Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder said he promises to learn the lesson that this ordeal has left him.
Pirates’ president Frank Coonelly expressed disappointment on the positive test of Marte. Coonelly said he was disappointed that Starling put himself, his teammates, and the organization in this position. The Pirates president also commented that we will continue to fight for the division title with the men who are here and also remarked we will look forward to getting Starling back after the All-Star break.
Pittsburgh is already missing third baseman Jung Ho Kang who was convicted of driving under the influence in February and remains in his native South Korea awaiting a work visa. The suspension of Marte is a big blow to the prospects of Pirates, who missed the playoffs last year after being the top National League wild-card team in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
The team has been on a downward spiral since finishing 98-64 in the 2015 MLB season. The Pirates put up a disappointing season in 2016 in which they finished 78-83 after losing to the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card game that season. The Pirates are off to a shaky start in 2017 with a record of 6-7 and will now be without their best player on offense.
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