Johan Santana: whoever says I’m not going to pitch this year “is lying”

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On Saturday Steve Popper and Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record reported that Johan Santana’s rehab has not been progressing well and that Mets sources are concerned that he may not pitch at all in 2011.  The team refuted that report yesterday.  But in today’s Daily News, Santana refutes it even more strongly:

“I don’t know who’s saying that I’m not ready or whatever because according to everything, the way it has been done, we’re right on the right track and where we’re supposed to be. Whoever is saying that I’m not ready I think is lying.”

If this were any other team we’d probably be obligated to give the benefit of the doubt, but it’s the Mets we’re talking about here.  Yes, they’re under new management, but they are coming off a recent run of being less-than-forthcoming when it comes to injuries so some trust needs to be regained before we simply take their word for it.

Indeed, last year at this time the Mets were refuting my report that Kelvim Escobar was seriously hurt, insisting that he merely had a “tired shoulder” and would be pitching any day. Indeed, Johan Santana himself was one of the people quoted as saying that Escobar was throwing the ball well and that his rehab from a winter injury was coming along nicely. That turned out to not be the case.

I’m hoping that the Sandy Alderson regime has put an end to the propaganda and I’m hoping that Popper and Klapisch merely spoke to someone with bad information because life is better when Johan Santana is pitching than when he is not. At present, however, I’d be wary of taking the Mets or Santana’s claims about his rehab at face value and would prefer to be pleasantly surprised if and when he takes the mound this year.

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.