Chicago White Sox catcher Welington Castillo was suspended 80 games without pay by Major League Baseball on Thursday after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Erythropoietin (EPO).
The suspension is effective immediately, and Castillo is the first White Sox player to be suspended for PEDs since drug testing was implemented in 2004.
“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,” general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “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.”
Castillo issued a statement through the Major League Baseball Players Association accepting responsibility for his wrongdoing.
“The positive test resulted from an extremely poor decision that I, and I alone, made,” Castillo said. “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.”
The White Sox purchased the contract of catcher Alfredo Gonzalez from Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday to fill Castillo’s roster spot. They also placed outfielder Leury Garcia on the 10-day disabled list with a left knee sprain, recalling outfielder Charlie Tilson from Charlotte.
Chicago later claimed catcher Dustin Garneau off waivers from the Oakland Athletics, transferring right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (shoulder) to the 60-day disabled list. Garneau was optioned to Charlotte.
Reports of Castillo’s suspension surfaced Wednesday night. He started against the Baltimore Orioles, going 1-for-5 in Chicago’s 11-1 win. Castillo did not speak with reporters after the game.
A 31-year-old veteran, Castillo is hitting .267 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games. He joined the White Sox on a two-year, $15 million contract last offseason. The deal includes an $8 million option for 2020.
Castillo has hit .259 with 86 home runs and 298 RBIs across his nine-year major league career played between the Chicago Cubs (2010-15), Seattle Mariners (2015), Arizona Diamondbacks (2015-16), Baltimore Orioles (2017) and White Sox.
Gonzalez is expected to serve as the backup to Omar Narvaez, who is hitting .180 with no homers and one RBI through 24 games and also leads the majors with seven passed balls.
Garcia was injured after stealing third base in the fifth inning Wednesday. He limped off the field under his own power and was replaced by Trayce Thompson on the basepaths.
Garcia, 27, has hit .262 with two home runs, 14 RBIs and nine stolen bases this season.
Tilson returns to the majors after missing the entire 2017 season due to a stress reaction in his right foot. The 25-year-old made his big league debut in 2016, going 1-for-2 in his only game.
Tilson has hit .248 with no home runs, 10 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 39 games with Charlotte this year.
—Field Level Media