With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.
The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.
Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.
The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.
Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.
Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.
As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.
NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.
School: Glenbard West
Head coach: Chad Hetlet
Assistant coaches: John Sigmund, Jon Schweighardt, Joe Kish, Chris Van Dyke, Rick Heckman, Mike Hofland and Tad Keely
How they fared in 2017: 9-2 (6-0 West Suburban Silver Conference). Glenbard West made the 8A state playoff field, defeated Bloom Township and then lost to Oswego in second round action.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 24 @ Maine South
Aug. 31 @ Proviso East
Sept. 8 vs Addison Trail
Sept. 14 @ York
Sept. 22 vs Downers Grove North
Sept. 29 vs Lyons Township
Oct. 5 @ Hinsdale Central
Oct. 13 vs Oak Park-River Forest
Oct. 19 @ Proviso West
Biggest storyline: Can the Hilltoppers get their swagger back in 2018?
Names to watch this season: RB Tyquan Cox and DE Mark Winters
Biggest holes to fill: The Hilltoppers will be a bit green on the offensive side of the football. Only three starters return from a season ago.
EDGY's Early Take: Whenever Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet welcomes back experience on defense, expect the Hilltoppers to be strong. As mentioned, West’s offense will be a bit inexperienced. But senior RB Tyquan Cox is back from a strong junior season. He is a big play threat with every carry. The defense brings back seven returning starters from a season ago; they were a unit that improved greatly as the season wore on last season. Senior DE Mark Winters is a name to watch along with four returning starting linebackers in the fold from a season ago. If the offense can develop sooner rather than later, expect Glenbard West to again challenge for a state title in 2018.