Welington Castillo

White Sox add Dustin Garneau to help thin catching corps in wake of Welington Castillo suspension


White Sox add Dustin Garneau to help thin catching corps in wake of Welington Castillo suspension

Is this the White Sox solution at catcher while Welington Castillo serves his 80-game suspension?

The team announced it claimed Dustin Garneau off waivers from the Oakland Athletics just hours after Castillo’s suspension became official. The White Sox simultaneously placed Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day disabled list, freeing up a spot on the 40-man roster for Garneau, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

Garneau, 30, has 87 major league games under his belt thanks to stints with A’s and Colorado Rockies. He split time between those two clubs last season and slashed .188/.272/.313 with a pair of homers and nine RBIs in 126 plate appearances.

The White Sox found themselves with few options Thursday morning, when Castillo was suspended for use of a performance-enhancing drug. Alfredo Gonzalez was summoned from Charlotte to take Castillo’s spot, though he wasn’t the team’s first choice. Kevan Smith, who played plenty at the big league level in 2017, is on the disabled list with an ankle injury. Seby Zavala, who is having a terrific offensive season at Double-A Birmingham, is also injured, though he likely wouldn't have been promoted as he continues to develop into a possible catcher of the future alongside Zack Collins.

The lack of internal options sent the White Sox outside the organization, and while Garneau is heading to Charlotte, he could potentially be up soon to help new No. 1 Omar Narvaez behind the plate while Castillo sits out the next three months.

Charlie Tilson gets another chance with White Sox after Leury Garcia hits the DL


Charlie Tilson gets another chance with White Sox after Leury Garcia hits the DL

Charlie Tilson is finally back in the major leagues. And this time, he’s hoping he can stick around for more than one game.

Tilson, currently ranked as the White Sox No. 15 prospect, was brought up from Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday, joining the active roster after the team placed Leury Garcia on the 10-day disabled list with a left knee sprain.

Tilson, a Wilmette native and New Trier High School product, came over to the White Sox from the St. Louis Cardinals in a midseason trade in 2016 and got a hit in his first big league at-bat. But in the same game, he suffered a season-ending hamstring injury while trying to make a diving catch in the outfield. The following spring, he suffered another serious injury, a stress fracture in his foot, and was forced to sit out the entire season.

He missed out on an Opening Day roster spot this year when Adam Engel outperformed him during spring training. But the White Sox hope Tilson will be able to provide some production in an outfield that has struggled in that department this season. Engel, even after a four-hit night on Wednesday, is batting just .212. Trayce Thompson is hitting well under .200. And Avisail Garcia and Nicky Delmonico are dealing with their own significant injuries as Leury Garcia joins them on the DL.

Tilson batted .248 in 39 games at Charlotte this season prior to Thursday’s call-up. He had three hits in Wednesday night’s loss.

Major League Baseball hands Welington Castillo an 80-game suspension after positive test for banned substance

Major League Baseball hands Welington Castillo an 80-game suspension after positive test for banned substance

A day after it was reported that Welington Castillo would receive an 80-game suspension for violating baseball’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball made it official and announced the ban.

Castillo, the veteran catcher brought in by the White Sox this past offseason, tested positive for a banned substance, per the league’s announcement, and was handed the 80-game suspension for first-time offenders.

Castillo released a statement a few hours after the suspension was officially handed down.

“I was recently notified by Major League Baseball that I had tested positive for EPO, a substance that is prohibited under MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement,” he said. “The positive test resulted from an extremely poor decision that I, and I alone, made. I take full responsibility for my conduct. I have let many people down, including my family, my teammates, the White Sox organization and its fans, and from my heart, I apologize. Following my suspension, I look forward to rejoining my teammates and doing whatever I can to help the White Sox win.”
It was the first time since new, harsher rules were put in place in 2005 in the wake of baseball’s steroid era that the White Sox have had a major league player suspended for such an offense.

Reports Wednesday night — which came out while Castillo was playing in the White Sox game against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, his former team — indicated that Castillo did not test positive for a steroid, but rather for a non-steroid performance-enhancing drug. Baseball's announcement indicated that Castillo tested positive for Erythropoietin, a performance-enhancing substance.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn released a statement on the suspension: "The Chicago White Sox were saddened and disappointed to learn of the suspension of catcher Welington Castillo for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Welington has apologized to the team and his teammates and has taken full responsibility for his actions.  He understands that he has negatively affected the team and has fallen short of the expectations we have of our players.  The White Sox fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing substances from our game.”

Castillo has a key role on this White Sox team as a veteran catcher tasked with helping to develop a group of young pitchers, two of whom are seen as very important pieces of the organization’s ongoing rebuilding effort: Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. How Castillo’s 80-game absence affects their development remains to be seen. Omar Narvaez, not as adept defensively behind the plate as Castillo, will take over as the team’s No. 1 catcher.

While the White Sox work to develop a specific identity and culture through this rebuilding process, this suspension seemingly flies in the face of what manager Rick Renteria is attempting to create with his preaching of playing hard, playing the right way and giving everything you’ve got. It was Castillo who was benched earlier this week for not running to first base on a popup. Renteria has done that several times this year, and it makes one wonder how such an egregious violation of baseball’s rulebook will be handled inside the clubhouse both during and after Castillo’s suspension.

Castillo’s future is also a topic of discussion in the wake of this news. He signed a two-year deal with the White Sox during the offseason, and there’s a team option for a third. It seemed to be an addition that would act as a bridge to highly ranked catching prospect Zack Collins, who along with fellow catching prospect Seby Zavala is having a nice offensive season at Double-A Birmingham. Collins and Zavala aren’t necessarily close to hitting the major leagues, and if this suspension should change Castillo’s future with the team, perhaps it could impact those prospects’ futures, as well. Maybe Castillo wouldn’t be around to provide a veteran safety net in 2020 or whenever they reach the big leagues.

With Kevan Smith, who lost out on the backup catcher’s job in spring training, on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, the White Sox brought Alfredo Gonzalez up from the minors to serve as the backup to Narvaez and take Castillo’s spot on the active roster. But it’s possible Gonzalez will be just a temporary solution until Smith returns to full health.