PITTSBURGH – Pirates outfielder Starling Marte spoke at length Monday with members of the Pittsburgh media for the first time since being suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball.
The following is a lightly edited transcript of his press conference, with Marte’s answers translated by team translator Mike Gonzalez.
“I want to welcome everyone today. I’m very grateful to be here. Today, I sit before you guys humbled. The suspension, these 80 days away from the game, have taught me a lot. I’ve learned a lot. I matured a lot. I would love to share with you guys some of those things. I do ask that this be the last time that we speak about this incident and this situation. I do not want to be a distraction to my team. If anything, starting today, tomorrow when I put on that uniform, I want to represent the team. I don’t want to be a distraction anymore and I want to honor and respect the organization the way it deserves.
“I want to start by apologizing to everyone, especially my teammates, the organization and the fans. I know that this has brought a lot of pain to many people. I know that this has caused some harm and I am very apologetic about that. This has also been something that brought pain on my family and myself and right now, my goal and what my heart’s mission is, is to regain the trust of my teammates, the fans and this organization.”
Did you or someone you know inject you? If not, how do you think it got in your system?
Truthfully speaking, I have no memory of anything being injected or any steroid or anything like that. I do know and I’m very well aware that I was careless and that’s something that I regret, not being careful enough. That’s really what I have to say.
Did you ingest or inject yourself with anything other than what turned up in the test result?
I would never inject myself. I wouldn’t even know how to inject myself. What I do know is that some substance got inside of my body and I was not careful enough. I regret that. I regret not being careful enough.
What was the reaction of your teammates?
Some of them were upset. Some of them were disappointed. I completely understand and respect that. These are teammates that have been with me through thick and thin. We’re teammates. We’re a family in there. However, even though some of them were upset and disappointed, a lot of them, many of them, if not the majority, showed me a lot of support and told me, ‘Look, take the suspension, get better, train hard, come back and help us win.’”
What did you say to the ones that were disappointed?
Like I mentioned before, even the ones that were upset, they were genuine in just demonstrating support. A lot of them contacted me during my suspension and just spoke life into me and motivated me. Now, my focus is just to continue to gain that trust, that respect and just helping my team get back those wins.
Can you be more specific about what this taught you?
“I’ve learned a lot of things. One of the things I’ve learned is to remain focused in the midst of so much negativity, so many people cheering against you or even just the negative comments. How to remain focused, how to remain focused on the goal and the finish line. I’ve also had a lot of people just come to me and give me advice and speak life into me. People have even shared stories, other people, other ball players that have dealt with it, just teaching me how to just remain focused, optimistic and ready to bounce back.
Are curious about how you’ll be received?
I can’t lie to you. There is a bit of a concern, especially because I love the fans. I love our fans. I love the interaction that I have with the fans, how much support and love they’ve given me and vice versa. But, I respect anything that’s thrown my way. I understand it. I would wish that things would go smoothly, but I can’t say that they will. All I know is that whether it goes positively or negatively, I am motivated and anything that’s thrown my way, I will just take it as a motivation and my goal is just to move forward and love all my fans and regain their trust.
Does this legitimately bring into question your accomplishments in the past?
“If I would have come out positive in the past, I would have been suspended a long time ago. The truth is, right now, I don’t have control over that. The goal here is to play good baseball, represent my team well, honor this organization well and make sure that I regain that trust. That’s my goal.”
Did you just begin using whatever triggered this test this past offseason?
“I’ve always been careful. Obviously something this offseason, I was not careful enough. For that, I have really learned a lot and I’ve learned a huge lesson behind that. However, my goal now, like I’ve mentioned before, is to regain that trust. When it comes to substances, always revise things with my trainers here in the Pirates organization first and just continue moving forward. What I can tell you is that I’ve always been careful. Somewhere, somehow I became careless. For that, I’m regretful.”
What has it been like to watch over the last 80 games?
“It was hurtful. Honestly, every game that I watched and I watched every single game, when we would lose, I would feel their pain. I know these teammates. I know that when they go out there on the field, they go out there to battle. They go out there to give it their all. Especially me being a part of this organization, I felt their pain. I felt the hurt behind the losses. Unfortunately, what happened in the past is what’s in the past and that’s in the past. Now, I’m coming back and my goal is to join them and get some victories for the organization.”
Do you generally take a lot of supplements?
“I do take supplements. However, all of the supplements I take are from the organization — whatever the trainers give me. When I am preparing to go into the offseason, I always try to take as much as I can (with me), so that it can last me throughout the offseason. But unfortunately, somewhere this offseason, I must have made a mistake. I was careless and that’s where some negative results came out. At the end of the day, my goal here is to make sure that every supplement that I take comes fully approved from this organization and the trainers here.”
Did you get the supplements in the Dominican Republic?
“Every supplement that I took was from here. However, unfortunately, somewhere I became careless in the offseason in the Dominican Republic and I must have taken something that got in my body that showed some bad results when it came to the testing.”
How do you feel about playing left field?
“I feel great. I just feel great to be back. Playing left field is something I’m very comfortable with. I spent a lot of time there in the minors right now during my suspension and my rehab. I’m just excited to be back and I’m excited to play baseball.”
Who did you watch games in Bradenton with?
“The majority of the games, I watched with my family. But there were some times when I watched them over at the academy or at Pirate City with some of they younger guys and younger ball players. It was pretty cool watching it with them because I would even give them some situations in the game and see how they would mature or they would respond to some of those situations. It was a good time watching with them.