O’s looking to acquire Duchscherer, might have made offer

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There are only a couple of free agents remaining on the open market who could have real value in 2011.  Justin Duchscherer is one of them.

The 33-year-old right-hander boasts an excellent 3.13 career ERA and 1.14 career WHIP across eight major league seasons.  He has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, but his numbers have remained strong during the times that he has not on the disabled list and he told Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com last week that he is “pretty much 100 percent” heading into spring training this season.

The Nationals are hoping to land him, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  The Mariners want him too, a source told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.  The Orioles are also in the running, and they might have the best shot right now.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Baltimore is “in the lead” for Duchscherer and may have already given him a one-year major league contract offer.

The right-hander would probably get a chance to land one of the final spots in the O’s staring rotation this spring.  Brian Matusz is a lock, Jeremy Guthrie is too.  But Duchscherer could probably beat out some of the other young pitchers in Orioles camp if he simply shows that his hip is intact.

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.