Starling Marte will start his rehab this afternoon, and will return to the Pirates on July 18th. Prior to the game, Marte met with the media in the McKechnie clubhouse. I was one of three media members in attendance, along with reporters from MLB.com and the Bradenton Herald.
The Pirates will be making the audio of the interview available to the rest of the Pittsburgh media, so I decided to make this a free article for everyone to read, so you can read it from one of the sources. I don’t normally do Q&A formats, as I prefer to write an article and add some analysis to the quotes. In this case, I decided the best approach would be to let the comments stand for themselves.
Below is the transcript of today’s interview with Marte, with translation from Hector Morales, who is the Pirates’ Coordinator of Mental Conditioning. I’ve highlighted the questions that I asked.
One shameless plug before we begin: The Pirates made the announcement late last night that Marte would be available, making it impossible for other Pittsburgh media outlets to have someone here. This is a big reason we have reporters in every minor league city, so we don’t miss news like this. You might say that I have an advantage here because I live in Bradenton. However, I’m on the road a lot, and actually plan my time at home around events that will be happening here. Knowing that Marte would be returning around this time, and knowing that he would likely be starting his rehab in Bradenton, I made sure I was home and available to cover it.
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Tim: You’ve been putting up good numbers, you’ve got a contract that runs through 2021. What was the incentive to take the performance enhancers?
It was an error. It was something that was a mistake I made. Just thinking there’s always something that can help. To move forward, I’m always trying to be better. But it’s a mistake. I made that mistake, and I just want to move forward and continue to help my team.
When did the result come out and how long was it in your system?
No idea. When they told me, it was a surprise to me. I didn’t know it was something that would impact me or impact the team or anybody else. I just didn’t know. It was a surprise.
You said it was a mistake or an error. What do you do to avoid making that mistake again?
Because I didn’t know, it’s something that I learned a significant amount from. I’m not going to make this mistake again. I’m not going to trust anyone who brings or tells me anything. If anybody ever offers me anything, or I have to take anything, I’m going to always clear it with the trainer or the organization to ensure that what I am taking for my health and nutrition is in accordance with the regulations. I’m not going to do that again, because I’ve learned a significant lesson.
Tim: How did the team react when you told them before you left?
The teammates felt bad about it, but they had my back. They gave me support. They offered me support through what was coming, through what was going to be ahead. They encouraged me to learn through the situation, and then to come back as soon as possible to be a member of the team again.
Are you worried about the perception going forward from teammates and fans?
There is always a smidgen in your mind of what people are thinking and how your teammates are thinking. At this moment, it’s not something that I can control. I just learn from it, and assume responsibility from it, and the only thing I can do from this moment forward is earn their trust back, and contribute to my team.
Tim: You mentioned you didn’t realize this was an illegal substance, and you were taking it from somebody who didn’t make it clear that was the case. What did they say it would help you with? What did they say about the performance enhancer that made you think it was fine to take?
At no time, no one gave me anything specific in terms of information of how this would help. They don’t know how the tainted formula came into what I took. At this moment, this is something that is very critical, and I need to learn from it. I’ve just got to move forward. I can’t think about the things that I did. I’ve just got to learn from it and move forward.
Tim: And to clarify from earlier, did you find out about it in April right before the suspension, or did you find out a little bit earlier?
Two weeks before the season started, I was told. I started thinking, and was dealing with myself and my wife through all the emotions to try and find out exactly what happened, how this mistake happened. From there, I’ve been trying to find ways to cope and to come back.
Tim: Your numbers were down at the start of the season. Was that weighing on you early in the year?
When you have issues and when you’re thinking about something, it does impact the way your mind stays focused. I’m not going to say 100% that my performance was impacted by that, but at the time I was worried. I had all of these things in the back of my mind.
Did the person that gave the substance say that it was an okay substance to take, and if not, why take it?
It’s not that anybody gave me anything. It’s something that I bought that might have induced this test positive. I was not aware that anything was in it.
You’ve been out of game action for a long time. What is your biggest focus for these two weeks before you return?
My focus is to put all of the effort that I need to in order to get ready to contribute to the team as soon as I join the team in a couple of weeks. I just want to maximize the opportunities here to get ready, and be able to make contributions right away.