BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Pirates hurt themselves

PITTSBURGH — Turns out the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals aren’t the Pirates’ most formidable enemy.

Instead that distinction applies to the recklessness of their own players.

Tuesday brought the shocking news that Starling Marte is suspended for 80 games, the second half of a one-two punch of bad news. It was also revealed that Jung Ho Kang’s appeal won’t be heard until May 25, which means that in a best-case scenario, he would probably not be able to play until almost July.

Marte first. He’s suspended after failing a steroid test. In a long rambling statement that surely was composed by the agent rather than the player, Marte said a lot of things.

They don’t matter. If players take any kind of drug or supplement, they need to run it by the team’s training and medical staff to make sure it’s OK. Failing that, the player needs to contact his agent to arrange a reliable medical consultation.

There’s no excuse for getting caught, especially when the initial penalty is a suspension that covers half of a season. To add to the problem, Marte is now in the system. A second offense would cost him an entire season.

So what happens without him? Andrew McCutchen moves back to center field, where some metrics had him as the worst National League player at that position last year.

Gregory Polanco likely stays in left field, and right field becomes a daily decision that could include Adam Frazier, Josh Harrison, John Jaso and freshly-recalled Jose Osuna.

Prospect Austin Meadows isn’t ready. He’s off to a slow start at Class AAA and probably needs to spend most of the season at that level, adjusting to the higher level of competition. After that, he’ll still have to confront the sizable gap between the minor and major leagues.

The possibility of a significant trade is slim, especially with Marte due back in mid-July. The Pirates will try to get by with what they have.

There hasn’t been any good news on Kang. If his appeal won’t be heard for more than a month, that means he’s at least two months from playing. That’s assuming he gets here at all. There’s no guarantee he can secure the work visa that’s being denied because of his DUI conviction in South Korea.

The three-week snapshot of the Pirates’ season has shown starting pitching generally good enough to compete. The bullpen has had some adventures, but should settle down.

The problem has been offense, and that won’t get any better with Marte sitting out the next 79 games.

The last farewell

Dan Rooney’s funeral was a low-key affair at the packed St. Paul Cathedral. Cardinal Donald Weurl, who celebrated the Mass, offered a homily.

Son Art Rooney II provided a eulogy after the official service had ended. There were no other speakers.

And, really, that approach fit nicely. Rooney wasn’t the kind of guy who would have appreciated a bigger approach. He didn’t need a bevy of speakers.

It was a fitting farewell for a guy who never called a lot of attention to himself.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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