The Pirates announced on Tuesday afternoon that outfielder Starling Marte has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after violating the league’s Joint Drug Agreement. Marte tested positive for Nandrolone, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Team president Frank Coonelly released a statement:
Marte also released a statement in which he says he tested positive due to “neglect and lack of knowledge,” Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. As Abraham points out, Nandrolone is an injection-only steroid.
Though Marte was off to a slow start, mustering just a .659 OPS in his first 13 games, he is arguably the Pirates’ best player. Losing Marte, an All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, for half the season puts a serious damper on the Pirates’ dream of contending in the NL Central. The club entered Tuesday 6-7, tied for third-place in the division with the Cubs. If the Pirates were to reach the postseason anyway, Marte would be ineligible.
Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.
Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.
The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.
Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.
Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:
Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.