The Astros' nightmarish offseason just got worse

Houston Astros relief pitcher Francis Martes walks toward the dugout after being pulled during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Seeking to crack down on repeated instances of cheating, MLB commissioner’s Rob Manfred hit a Houston Astros player with a year-long suspension on Monday. No, it was not for the reason you’d suspect.

MLB announced that Astros pitcher Francis Martes has been suspended 162 games for testing positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid. It is the 24-year-old’s second offense in two years.

It seems pretty safe to say that’s not the Astros player many were hoping would receive some kind of punishment.

The Astros have been lambasted for days as MLB’s spring training begins to ramp up, with the harshest statements coming after the team’s widely criticized apology and subsequent comments about their cheating in 2017.

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Several MLB players have criticized the Astros’ punishment for their illegal sign-stealing — a $5 million fine, loss of four draft picks and year-long suspensions for since-fired employees — as too lenient toward the players that Manfred’s report indicated were heavily involved in organizing the scheme, though Manfred insisted the public shaming the team is going through is punishment enough.

At the very least, Manfred can say he has punished at least one member of the 2017 team.

Martes threw 54.1 innings for the Astros in 2017 as a 21-year-old rookie, though he hasn’t appeared in the majors since that season. Once the organization’s top-ranked prospect, Martes was a candidate for the Astros’ bullpen this year and a dark horse for the rotation’s fifth starter spot according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.

So goes another rough week for the Astros. We can only wait and see what comes out next.

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