The Pittsburgh Pirates are losing a key contributor for half the season. Star outfielder Starling Marte has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, violating MLB's drug policy. The violation seemed unintentional, based on a statement made by Marte following the announcement. It greatly alters his career, however, and could force his team to drastically alter their plans for the season.

Bad suspension

The suspension handed down by the MLB on Tuesday was one of the largest in recent memory, in line with the suspension Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon received last year.

Marte tested positive for Nandrolone, which became one of the more well-known performance enhancing drugs during the heyday of the steroid era. The Pirates outfielder won't be eligible to return to the field until July 18, sacrificing about $2.5 million in the process.

Shortly after the suspension was announced, Marte came out with a statement of his own. There was an implication that he didn't knowingly ingest a performance enhancing drug (a common defense by suspended players), but he did take responsibility for his mistake while apologizing to the organization and its fans. Meanwhile, Pirates president Frank Coonelly cited his disappointment in Marte, but stated that the team would continue to battle for victories and await his return in July.

Struggles moving forward in Pittsburgh

Marte was set up to be the future star of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had a historic season in 2016, going to his first All-Star Game and winning his second Gold Glove award. He became the first player on the team to hit for .300 while recording 40 steals since Barry Bonds did it back in 1990.

The team was prepared to trade Andrew McCutchen this offseason, and if they had done so, Marte was going to become the person who all eyes were on in the city.

In the wake of his suspension, the Pirates were left to scramble. McCutchen moved back to his old position in center field, while the team recalled Jose Osuna from Triple-A.

The team was already dealing with the absence of third baseman Jung Ho Kang, whose legal issues have kept him in South Korea for the foreseeable future. Pittsburgh is 6-7 so far this season, but could be in danger of falling well out of the playoff picture without Marte, who wouldn't be eligible for the postseason even if the team were to make it to that point.

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