White Sox

David Robertson breathes sigh of relief after pickoff ends contest

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David Robertson breathes sigh of relief after pickoff ends contest

CLEVELAND — David Robertson stepped off the pitching rubber, fired a strike to first base and exhaled.

The White Sox closer added another dicey — but ultimately successful — chapter to what has been a trying week on Saturday night. After he allowed seven runs in his previous two outings, Robertson served up a two-run homer and put the tying run on base before he converted his 30th save on a game-ending pickoff of Abraham Almonte. Robertson’s save closed out a 4-3 White Sox victory over the Cleveland Indians.

[MORE: Carlos Rodon paces White Sox past Indians]

“Big sigh of relief,” Robertson said. “It was really nice, especially because it ended a game and helped me get out of that struggle I was in.”

Robertson’s pickoff was his first since 2009 and only the second of his career. It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as the Progressive Field crowd regained its voice after Chris Johnson homered to deep center and Almonte singled. Robertson retired Jerry Sands on a fly ball before he picked off Almonte with All-Star Jason Kipnis at the plate with both Zach Duke and Nate Jones warming up in the White Sox bullpen.

“It did make it interesting,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But he had three runs to play with. He caught one in the middle of the plate and Johnson got him, but there’s other ways to get outs so he found a creative way to get outs.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Robertson blew a save, his seventh, on Thursday when he allowed a three-run homer to Billy Butler in the ninth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Oakland A’s. The outing came after Monday’s game when he yielded four runs (two earned) in allowing the A’s to tie the contest, though the White Sox won 8-7 in 14 innings.

Robertson said catcher Rob Brantly called for the pickoff and he was able to execute much to the Indians’ dismay.

“I came set real quick, popped it over to first, made a great throw and he was kind of caught flat-footed and got him out,” Robertson said. 

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: