Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Starling Marte has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
The league said Tuesday that Marte tested positive for the steroid Nandrolone. He will be eligible to return in mid-July.
Marte was an All-Star for the first time in his career in 2016 and moved from leftfield to centerfield in the offseason after winning his second Gold Glove. The 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic is hitting .241 with two home runs and seven RBIs this season. The Pirates began play on Tuesday night 6-7 through the first two weeks of the season.
Marte said in a statement that “neglect and lack of knowledge led to this mistake.”
“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,” he said. “I promise to learn the lesson that this ordeal has left me.”
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said he was “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,” Coonelly said, “and will look forward to getting Starling back after the All-Star break.”
Barring postponements, Marte would be eligible to return for the July 18 home game against Milwaukee and would lose 91 days’ pay from his $5 million salary, which comes to $2,486,339. Under a change to baseball’s drug agreement in collective bargaining during the offseason, he doesn’t get paid on off days during the ban. Under the old agreement, he would have lost 80 days’ pay, which would have amounted to $2,185,782.
Another change in the drug agreement means Marte will not be credited for major league service during the suspension. That would have delayed his eligibility for free agency by a year until after the 2019 season, but he agreed in 2014 to a six-year, $31-million contract that includes club options for 2020 and ’21.
Under the drug agreement, Marte is ineligible for the 2017 postseason if the Pirates were to advance.
It’s a task made considerably harder with Marte out of the mix for the next three months. Pittsburgh already is missing third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who remains in his native South Korea awaiting a work visa after being convicted of driving under the influence in February.
The Pirates recalled Jose Osuna from Triple-A Indianapolis ahead of their game Tuesday night in St. Louis.
Marte is the second player to be suspended this season for running afoul of the league’s drug policy. Philadelphia pitcher Elniery Garcia, who was on the Phillies’ 40-man roster but assigned to Double-A Reading, was suspended last week.
Buchholz has surgery
The Phillies’ Clay Buchholz had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm and could miss the rest of the season.
The 32-year-old was placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to April 15 before the club’s series opener against the Mets. The surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews, and Buchholz now faces an estimated recovery time of four to six months.
“Probably out for the season, obviously, with the surgery today,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “I don’t know for a fact whether he can come back at the end of the year but what did they say, four to six months or something? It’s too bad but fortunately we’ve got pretty good inventory at Triple-A.”
The two-time All-Star last pitched a week ago in Philadelphia, allowing six runs and eight hits in 2 1⁄3 innings against the Mets before the injury forced him to exit the game. An MRI the following day revealed a partial tear of the right flexor pronator mass. Buchholz then visited Dr. Andrews on Monday for a second opinion before opting for surgery.
Buchholz spent his first 10 seasons with the Boston Red Sox before he was traded to Philadelphia in December for minor leaguer Josh Tobias.
Bochy has heart procedure
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has undergone a minor heart procedure and will miss the team’s two-game series in Kansas City this week.
The Giants say Bochy had been complaining of discomfort and underwent a procedure called an ablation in San Diego on Monday to fix his heart rhythm problems.
Bochy, 62, is now resting at home and is expected to rejoin the team in Colorado on Friday. Bench coach Ron Wotus will assume managerial duties the next two games against the Royals.
Bochy underwent a heart procedure in February 2015 to insert two stents and was hospitalized last summer with an undisclosed illness that forced him to miss a game in Miami.