Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Marte eager to return, contribute for Pirates

MLB.com

COLUMBUS -- Starling Marte spent Wednesday night less than 200 miles from Pittsburgh, one level removed from the Pirates, with less than two weeks between him and the end of his 80-game suspension.

Marte is four games into a 15-day Minor League assignment. He is nearly back in the big leagues, but he knows it may take longer for his credibility to return. He understands there will be questions after he tested positive this spring for the performance-enhancing substance Nandrolone.

View Full Game Coverage

COLUMBUS -- Starling Marte spent Wednesday night less than 200 miles from Pittsburgh, one level removed from the Pirates, with less than two weeks between him and the end of his 80-game suspension.

Marte is four games into a 15-day Minor League assignment. He is nearly back in the big leagues, but he knows it may take longer for his credibility to return. He understands there will be questions after he tested positive this spring for the performance-enhancing substance Nandrolone.

View Full Game Coverage

Will the 28-year-old outfielder remain as productive as he was the past four years when he averaged 5.2 Wins Above Replacement per season? Was there anything suspect about his previous performance? How will fans and fellow players respond?

"I cannot control what people think, and people will have many different thoughts about this," Marte said through interpreter Hector Morales. "I believe the numbers I put in were all legitimate, put in through effort, a lot of effort, a lot of work."

In other words, Marte does not believe he is a product of PEDs. Marte said Wednesday his suspension was the result of a one-time, "careless" mistake he made during the offseason; that he never tested positive before and has not tested positive since; and that, to his knowledge, he has never played with a banned substance in his body.

"I made a mistake, and I learned from it," Marte said. "I want to continue to show that I can play."

For now, Marte is readjusting to the speed of upper-level competition after two months of drills and back-field games in Bradenton, Fla. He went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, a walk and a stolen base as Indianapolis' designated hitter on Wednesday at Huntington Park. With one out in the ninth inning, Marte launched a fly ball over the 22-foot wall in right field.

Marte is eligible to rejoin the Pirates on July 18. He said he has been watching his teammates, living the ups and downs of their season, but upset with his inability to contribute.

"At the same time, it gives me energy and motivation, because I know I need to go there and be ready to compete," he said.

Marte said he was driving when he received a call from Major League Baseball, about two weeks before the regular season began, informing him of the results of his test. On Sunday, Marte told reporters he purchased the substance that led to his positive test without checking whether it contained anything on MLB's list of banned substances.

He played in 13 games for Pittsburgh but did not inform the Pirates, not even close friend Gregory Polanco, of his pending suspension until April 18, the day MLB announced the news. Marte apologized to his teammates in St. Louis that day.

"The message was me apologizing for the mistake I had made," Marte said. "The reply was not to repeat it again, to learn from it, because they need me. They need me as part of the team, and they wanted me to be there contributing."

He said he has remained in contact with Polanco, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, Tony Watson and manager Clint Hurdle. Marte said he has also spoken with players previously suspended for using performance-enhancing substances.

"What I learned from what they told me is I need to focus on what I can control and not allow things to get in the way or impact me," Marte said. "Just come back and try to contribute to the team as much as I can.

"I don't know what fans will do, what their expectations will be. I know I will try my best to contribute to the team."

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.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Starling Marte