Cubs

Anthony Rizzo: Starling Marte’s PED suspension shows MLB needs more drug testing

Anthony Rizzo: Starling Marte’s PED suspension shows MLB needs more drug testing

Surrounded by reporters at his locker looking for a reaction to Tuesday's steroid bust, Anthony Rizzo flipped the question around: Why wouldn't Starling Marte take the risk? 

The Pittsburgh Pirates already handed Marte a six-year, $31 million contract before Opening Day 2014, plus two club options that could make the deal worth $53 million for the All-Star/Gold Glove outfielder. Major League Baseball suspending Marte for 80 games after testing positive for nandrolone will cost him roughly $2.5 million and the chance to play in the postseason this year.  

That doesn't sound like much of a deterrent to Rizzo, one of the faces of the world champion Cubs and a star player willing to speak his mind on certain issues.

"Is it a big risk if you're suspended 80 games and you got a guaranteed contract?" Rizzo said. "Do you take that risk to get the reward? That's the question you ask. For some guys, it is a big risk, for others, you get away with it, you get the big deal. But it's part of the game. And my opinion is we need to drug test a lot more."

Standing in the Wrigley Field clubhouse before a night game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Rizzo said he hasn't been screened since the initial round of testing in spring training.

"Me, personally, I haven't been tested since the season started," Rizzo said. "It's been a solid two months now. It's a random drug test and I'll probably be drug-tested a week from now, because I'm saying this. But for me, it's 15 minutes. We should be getting drug-tested a lot more."

Marte – who hit .311, stole 47 bases and won a second Gold Glove last season to bump Andrew McCutchen out of center field – homered off Jake Arrieta during Pittsburgh's weekend sweep in Wrigleyville. 

"I don't look in the rearview mirror," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Yeah, you could go backward and get upset about moments like that. If they had done this sooner, would it have made a difference? I really don't know, so I don't live that way."

After dangling McCutchen in offseason trade talks, the Pirates pulled back a proud franchise player, while power-hitting infielder Jung Ho Kang is still dealing with the legal fallout from multiple drunk-driving incidents in South Korea. Marte's suspension leaves a small-market team trying to catch the Cubs with almost no margin for error.

"Is it perfect?" Maddon said. "Probably not, but I also believe when something like this occurs, as we continue to move forward, whatever is falling through the cracks eventually will not anymore. 

"In some ways, it's unfortunate for Pittsburgh. That really is devastating to the entire group, not just the individual himself. It's really a tough moment to be in.

"(But) it appears that the system is working. (And) if it's not 100 percent working, at least it's trending in the right direction."

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Rizzo is also realistic enough to understand that kind of hit rate won't happen in what's become a booming $10 billion (and counting) industry.

"Any system that's in place, you're going to have people trying to beat it," Rizzo said. "No matter what you do for a living, people are going to try to beat the system. It's no different here. If there are loopholes, guys know about them. 

"(Marte) happened to get caught, but for sure there are other guys that are doing something very similar, because to get caught with something that aggressive in his system, there's obviously something wrong."

Rizzo also sounded disappointed on a different level. At the age of 28, Marte should be in the prime of his career, a worthy rival for the defending World Series champs. But now one of the more dynamic players in the game looks like a fraud. 

"I personally love playing against Starling Marte," Rizzo said. "Every time he gets on first, I like talking to him. We mess around a lot in-game. And then something like this comes along, it's just like: 'Man, anybody could be doing it.' It's unfortunate."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Mailbag edition

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Mailbag edition

3:00 - Listener question: Espada or Ross? Kelly Crull shares some inside info on Joe Espada

7:30 - Kelly talks about David Ross' second interview for the Cubs managerial job.

11:30 - Listener question: Say it is Espada, do you see any way David Ross comes on as a coach behind Espada?

13:30 - Listener question: Could the team regress further due to a lack of familiarity with a new manager?

20:10 - Listener question: How hard will Theo and Jed go after Gerrit Cole? And if he's not available who else is?

23:30 - Listener question: Are you trying to extend Castellanos?

26:00 - Listener question: If you sign Castellanos are you also trading Kyle Schwarber?

28:45 - Listener question: Should the Cubs trade Kris Bryant? What would they get back in return?

33:00 - Lighting round: Will Nico Hoerner be the opening day second baseman and keep the job in 2020?

33:10 - Lightning round: Will the Cubs bring back Cole Hamels?

33:45 - Can we and should we clone Javy Baez so we have a fresh Javy when he retires, or is that unethical?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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Cubs reportedly had second interview with David Ross

Cubs reportedly had second interview with David Ross

The Cubs' managerial search is in full swing as they continue to line up intriguing candidates to replace Joe Maddon. In recent weeks, Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada's name has been floated out as a strong candidate, with reports stating that the Cubs had already scheduled their second interview with the much sought after coach

While the fact that Espada is such a strong candidate in the midst of a World Series run has led many to believe he is the runaway favorite right now, it is still very much so a wide-open race. 

It was reported that while not extremely publicized, former Cub David Ross is believed to have had his second interview with the Cubs organization this week. 

Ross, who was extremely clutch in the Cubs 2016 World Series win, has an obvious and extended history with the organization. And while there are no concrete reports on the nature of any follow-up discussions between Ross and the Cubs, it was stated that the two sides have in fact at least had those expanded conversations.

As Kelly Crull hinted at in her tweet, Ross's position with the franchise definitely makes his negotiations about the managerial opening a bit more fluid, which may lead to fewer updates on his specific discussions with the team.  

Ross and Espada certainly sound like the favorites to land the Cubs' managerial opening, as our own David Kaplan stated that manager Joe Girardi, who has been connected to the Cubs throughout this search, looks like the front-runner for the Philadephia Phillies managerial spot. 

The 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros kicks off on Tuesday night. Traditionally you do not see MLB franchises make their managerial hiring announcements during the World Series,  so the Cubs' announcement could come on one of the World Series off-days, as early as Thursday. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.