By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner
ST. LOUIS — Pirates center fielder Starling Marte on Tuesday was suspended for 80 games after he tested positive for tested positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing anabolic steroid. The suspension is without pay and is effective immediately. He also is not eligible to participate in the postseason.
“When you make a mistake, you’ve got to pay for it,” outfielder Andrew McCutchen said. “He has some things that he’s going to have to battle. He has our support. Guys make mistakes, but the last thing I need to be doing is distancing myself from him. I’m just trying to be a good friend before I am a teammate and let him know that through it all I’m here for him.”
The Pirates called up first baseman/outfielder Jose Osuna from Triple-A Indianapolis. McCutchen, who moved to right field at the start of this season, will replace Marte as the everyday center fielder.
Marte has known for at least several days that he flunked the drug test administered during spring training. General manager Neal Huntington said Marte had exhausted the appeal process.
During his suspension, Marte is allowed to work out at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., and the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic. He also may participate in extended spring training. For the last 15 days of his suspension, Marte will be sent on a rehab assignment with a minor league affiliate.
Marte met privately with his teammates before Tuesday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He left Busch Stadium without speaking to reporters, although he did issue a statement via an email from the Players’ Association.
“I have been informed that I have tested positive in one of the tests that are regularly done in my job,” Marte said. “In this very difficult moment I apologize to my family, the Pittsburgh Pirates, my teammates, my fans, and baseball in general. 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.”
Nandrolone is used medically to treat anemia caused by kidney problems. Effects include muscle growth and increased red blood cell production, but it also may cause tumors or bloody cysts in the liver and spleen.
Over six seasons in the majors, Marte, 28, has a .288 batting average and a .789 OPS. This year, he is batting .241 with a .659 OPS, two home runs and stolen two bases.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.