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Pirates OF Marte humbled in return from ban

From ESPN - July 17, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte insists that he still is not sure exactly how the illegal steroid that cost the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder an 80-game suspension got into his system. All set to return Tuesday night, he stressed that he did not inject himself with Nandrolone but understands that he was "careless" while spending last offseason in his native Dominican Republic.

"That's something I regret -- not being careful enough," Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez on Monday in the final hours before his forced half-season sabbatical ends.

The 28-year-old, a two-time Gold Glove winner and one-time All-Star, apologized to his teammates in the minutes after his suspension was handed down April 18. He offered a broader one to the organization and the fan base, well aware that his misstep could follow him for the remainder of his career.

"I ca not lie to you, there is a bit of a concern," Marte said. "But I respect anything that's thrown my way. I understand it. I would wish that things would go smoothly, but I ca not say that they will. Whether it goes positively or negatively, I will be motivated."

The Pirates entered Monday night's game against Milwaukee at 38-41 during Marte's absence and 44-48 overall, staying on the fringe of an underwhelming NL Central race while using a patched-together lineup that forced manager Clint Hurdle to get creative. John Jaso, Adam Frazier and Jose Osuna -- all infielders by trade -- have found themselves in the outfield at various times, with mixed results. Hurdle plans to pencil Marte's No. 6 in the lineup on Tuesday and see where it goes.

The smaller picture for the Pirates is whether they can make enough headway in the division over the next two weeks to make a push for a playoff spot or go into sell mode at the trade deadline. The bigger picture is Marte's ability to regain trust inside the clubhouse and in the front office of the team that awarded him with a six-year, $31 million contract in 2014.

Marte spent the majority of his suspension near the team's minor league headquarters in Bradenton, Florida, watching every game either with his family or the young prospects who work out at Pirate City. He felt the acute anguish of each loss and traded texts and notes with a handful of teammates but remains well aware that there is work to be done.

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