By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use that came down on Pirates outfielder Starling Marte on Tuesday had the attention of the baseball world.
Marte’s suspension could be devastating for Pittsburgh, as he won’t be eligible participate in postseason play if the Pirates make it to the playoffs in 2017. The Pirates were expected to be one of the top challengers to the defending champion Cubs in the NL Central.
Speaking generally about PED use in the game, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo didn’t express surprise.
“Any system that is in place, you are going to have people trying to beat it no matter what you do for a living,” Rizzo said. “It’s no different here. If there are loopholes, guys know about it. He happened to get caught. I am sure there are other guys doing something similar. To get caught with something that aggressive in your system, there is obviously something going on.”
Rizzo wasn’t shy about the subject matter. The fact is that even in a baseball world in which drug testing takes place randomly each day, players will still try to push the envelope and cheat the system.
“Is it a big risk?” Rizzo wondered aloud. “You have been suspended 80 games, and you have a guaranteed contract. You take that risk to get the reward.”
The opinionated Rizzo has always spoken from the heart on baseball issues. In this case, he called on the players association and MLB to step up and protect the clean, hard workers in the game.
“I know it’s collective bargaining, and that is our right,” Rizzo said. “The rules are the rules. It is like anything else, except the whole baseball world now knows about it. We have made a lot of strides in baseball. Like I said, anytime there is something to try and beat, someone is going to do it. That is just human nature.”
This isn’t personal for Rizzo, just business.
“I personally love playing against Starling Marte,” Rizzo said. “Every time he gets on first base, I talk to him. We mess around a lot in game. Something like this happens and you say anyone can be doing it. It is unfortunate.”
Rizzo said he hasn’t been tested for two months.
“It is just 15 minutes,” he said. “For me, we should be getting tested a lot more. That is just the way it is.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.