Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was suspended 80 games on April 18 after testing positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance. He’s eligible to return on July 18, just after the All-Star break, but will not play center field, Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
The Pirates’ front office determined, going into the 2017 season, that the best defensive alignment had Marte in center field, Andrew McCutchen in right field, and Gregory Polanco in left. When Marte was suspended, however, McCutchen moved back to center field. Polanco moved back to right field near the end of May.
Manager Clint Hurdle said that left field is “where [Marte] needs to fit in.”
GM Neal Huntington said, “We felt that was the best alignment for this club in this situation. We’ve got a young man who recognizes he’s got work to do, who recognizes he’s put himself in a situation where he needs to earn people’s trust and respect back again. But we’ve also got a young man who’s driven to fold himself back into this club, earn his way back and help this club win games.”
Prior to the suspension, Marte was hitting .241/.288/.370 with two home runs and seven RBI in 59 plate appearances. He has won a Gold Glove Award in each of the last two seasons and made his first All-Star Game last year.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.