PITTSBURGH -- On the eve of his return to the Pirates, left fielder Starling Marte apologized to his teammates, fans and the entire organization for what he repeatedly described as a "careless" mistake that left him suspended for three months.Monday was the final day of Marte's 80-game suspension, which he
PITTSBURGH -- On the eve of his return to the Pirates, left fielder Starling Marte apologized to his teammates, fans and the entire organization for what he repeatedly described as a "careless" mistake that left him suspended for three months.
Monday was the final day of Marte's 80-game suspension, which he received April 18 following a positive test for the performance-enhancing substance Nandrolone. He is eligible to rejoin the Pirates on Tuesday night against the Brewers.
"Today, I sit before you guys humbled. The suspension, these 80 days that I spent away from the game have taught me a lot," Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez on Monday at PNC Park. "Tomorrow when I put on that uniform, I want to represent this team. I don't want to be a distraction anymore. I want to honor and respect this organization the way it deserves."
Marte previously addressed his suspension in Bradenton, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio. When asked Monday for specifics about the positive test that led to his suspension, Marte's answers were vague.
"Somewhere in this offseason, I must have made a mistake and became careless. That's where some negative results came out," Marte said. "My goal here is to make sure that now every supplement I take comes fully approved from this organization and the trainers here."
Asked how the banned substance may have entered his system, Marte said he had "no memory of anything being injected or any steroid or anything like that. I do know, and I'm very well aware, that I was careless. That's something I regret, not being careful enough."
Marte reiterated that he has never tested positive for PEDs before, indicating that the legitimacy of his past performance -- including his All-Star campaign in 2016 -- should not be drawn into question. Moving forward, Marte said he hopes to regain the trust of his teammates, fans and organization. He said he understood some teammates were upset or disappointed by his suspension but added that the majority of them have been supportive.
Manager Clint Hurdle said he expected a "smooth transition" in the clubhouse as Marte returns to the lineup Tuesday night.
"I'm so happy he's back. I feel great today. It's a great day. Can't wait for tomorrow," said right fielder Gregory Polanco, Marte's closest friend on the team. "We know he's a great player. That's it. He seems OK. He seems the same."
Marte is unsure how he will be received by Pittsburgh's fans, however.
"I can't lie to you. There is a bit of a concern, especially because I love the fans. I love our fans," Marte said. "But I respect anything that's thrown my way. I understand it. I would wish things would go smoothly, but I can't say that they will. All I know is whether it goes positively or negatively, I am motivated. Anything that's thrown my way, I'm just going to take it as a motivation."
Watching the Pirates play without him may have been enough motivation for Marte. In his absence, they rotated a number of utility players into his vacant outfield spot and slot in the lineup. The Bucs entered Monday's series opener against the Brewers with a 38-41 record since Marte's suspension.
"It was hurtful. Honestly, every game that I watched -- and I watched every single game -- whenever we would lose, I would feel the pain," Marte said. "I felt their pain. I felt the hurt behind the losses. Unfortunately, what happened in the past is in the past."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.