NEW YORK (AP) — 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 left field to center field 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 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 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.”
Under the league’s drug agreement, Marte is ineligible for the 2017 postseason if the Pirates were able to advance.
It’s a task made considerably harder with Marte out of the mix for the next three months. Pittsburgh is already 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.