GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coming off a 100-loss season, the White Sox want to put 2018 behind them and turn the page.
That’s exactly what Welington Castillo wants to do in 2019 — and then some. He’s at spring training carrying more than just the losses that stained the White Sox record last year. Castillo’s reputation became tainted from the 80-game PED suspension that was imposed on the veteran catcher in May, when he tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), a performance-enhancing substance in violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
After the suspension was handed down, Castillo said in a statement that 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.”
Wednesday, in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago, Castillo revealed more about the incident that led to his suspension, a massive punishment that caught everybody off guard: the White Sox, as well as Castillo himself.
“I did not know what I was taking, so I just got screwed,” Castillo said.
Castillo won’t say who gave him the substance that caused him to get suspended. In his words, he doesn’t want “to throw anybody under the bus.” But in the end, it’s his actions that he’s responsible for. He took the drug. He suffered the consequences. He’s determined to never let that happen again.
“I’m never going to put something in my body that is going to hurt me and hurt my career and my name. I’m never going to put something in my body that I know that this is not good for you and I’m going to take it. No, that’s not me. That’s not how my dad and my mom raised me,” Castillo said.
The timing of the suspension didn’t help matters, either. The White Sox had just signed him to a two-year, $15 million contract the previous December to help develop their young pitching staff. One of the main reasons Castillo chose the White Sox was due to his relationship with and respect for manager Rick Renteria.
So getting popped for 80 games seven weeks into the season was a surprise to say the least.
“A lot. A lot. I was shocked because I know what kind of person I am. I know what to do and what not to do. You just trust one person and you think they know what they’re doing,” Castillo said. “I got tested and I got caught, but I did not know what it was. I trusted in that person and you see what happened.”
After the suspension was handed down on May 24, Castillo stood in the White Sox clubhouse and apologized to his teammates. What was more difficult, getting the suspension news or revealing to his teammates that he was letting all of them down?
“I think both. At the end of the day, it’s your name, it’s your career, it’s everything. Everybody’s against you, but I know who I am. I know what kind of person I am. I know what kind of player I am. I know what kind of family I come from, so that’s not going to change the person that I am,” Castillo said.
When the White Sox signed Castillo, he was coming off one of the best offensive seasons of his career, batting .282/.323/.490 with 20 home runs in 365 plate appearances with the Baltimore Orioles. Limited to only 49 games last season, his numbers plummeted, hitting just .259/.304/.406 with six home runs and 15 RBIs.
He’s planning on delivering the 2017 version of himself here in 2019.
“I trust a lot of myself,” Castillo said. “I just need to be healthy and my numbers will be there.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.