Volquez looks stellar in debut, Reds in good shape?

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The Reds, as a franchise, have enjoyed quite a breakout season.  Usually an afterthought by mid-June, they currently hold a half-game lead in the National League Central over the heavily favored Cardinals.  To boot, they’re even selling out games at Great American Ballpark in July.

Drew Stubbs has developed into a multi-talented threat at the top of the lineup with 17 stolen bases, 13 home runs and 46 RBI in 300 at-bats, Jay Bruce is finally showing better plate discipline, Joey Votto is leading all National Leaguers in OPS and rookie Mike Leake is 6-1 with a 3.53 ERA over his first 17 big league starts.  Now let’s add Edinson Volquez to the mix.

Volquez underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in August of 2009 and has spent the last year or so rehabbing.  On Saturday night in Cincinnati he made his 2010 debut against the Rockies and absolutely shut them down

Volquez tossed six strong innings and allowed only one earned run as the Reds snagged an 8-1 victory and held off the hard-charging Cards for one more day.  He struck out nine batters, allowed only three hits and issued only two walks.

It should come as no surprise, really, that Volquez looked so dominant.  He was excellent on a four-game rehab assignment prior to Saturday’s big debut, and he posted a 3.21 ERA and 201 strikeouts over 196 innings back in 2008, his first year with the Reds.  Now he’ll look to lift the club to its first playoff berth since 1995.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.