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Trade speculation heats up when Curve's Marte pulled from game Wednesday

July 27, 2011 - Cory Giger
Trade speculation always heats up when a heralded minor league prospect is pulled in the middle of a game at this time of year, and that's what happened Wednesday night with Starling Marte.

The Curve center fielder started against Reading and played four innings, then was lifted for pinch-hitter Brad Chalk in the fifth. Marte had been hit by a pitch on his right hand to open the game, so the initial thought was he might have been taken out because of an injury.

When he came out of the game, questions popped up from many fans wondering if something could be in the works with Marte perhaps being part of a potential trade. The outfielder is considered the Bucs' best position player prospect.

Curve manager P.J. Forbes dismissed the trade rumors after the game.

"No hurt, not traded. Teaching moment for him and the ballclub," Forbes texted to the Mirror.

It's not clear what, if anything, Marte did wrong to get benched, but Forbes made it clear it was his decision.

After Marte was lifted, Pirates farm director Kyle Stark texted Forbes to see if the outfielder had been injured. The Curve manager then informed Stark that the move was made for a "teaching moment."

Marte went 1-for-1 with a run and raised his average to .307. He's been above .300 all season, although he has batted just .220 this month to bring his average down from .331.

Marte also has seven homers, 33 RBIs, 116 hits and a .796 OPS.

If the Pirates are to pull off any type of blockbuster trade before this weekend's deadline, other teams almost certainly will be asking about getting Marte in return.

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