Starling Marte says numbers before PED suspension were 'legitimate'

It’s been a tough season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. At 39-46, the team sits in fourth place in the National League Central. It’s been a surprising fall for a team with playoff aspirations.

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One of the big reasons behind the team’s struggles was the loss of outfielder Starling Marte to an 80-game PED suspension. Marte was suspended in mid-April, after testing positive for Nandrolone.

The suspension immediately brought up questions about Marte’s performance. The 28-year-old had emerged as the team’s best outfielder over the past few seasons, and was coming off his first All-Star selection. With Marte under contract through at least 2019, it was reasonable to worry whether his numbers were fueled by steroids.

That’s not the case, according to Marte. The outfielder spoke to reporters prior to a rehab game on Wednesday, telling them he earned his pre-suspension numbers, according to Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I cannot control what people think, and people will have many different thoughts about this,” Marte said. “I believe the numbers I put in were all legitimate, put in through effort, a lot of effort, a lot of work, to get that completed and get that done.

“I made a mistake, and I learned from it. I want to continue to show that I can play.”

Marte said his positive test came during the offseason, so he’s never played a game while under the influence of PEDs. He added that he’s passed every other test in his career, including those taken before and after the suspension. Marte said his one positive test was a “careless mistake,” and that he’ll consult with a trainer before taking any supplements moving forward.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is eligible to return from his PED suspension July 18. (AP Photo)

With the suspension looming, Marte got off to a tough start in his first 13 games. The outfielder hit just .241/.288/.370 over 59 plate appearances.

Marte is currently rehabbing at Triple-A. He is eligible to return from his suspension July 18.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!