Brandon Webb tops out at 84 mph in extended spring training

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Jason Grey of ESPN.com was on hand for Brandon Webb’s extended spring training start yesterday and filed a report that suggests the former Cy Young winner is still nowhere near full strength more than two years after shoulder problems first surfaced.

Webb threw two scoreless innings against the Mariners’ extended spring squad, but Grey notes that his highest velocity on 12 fastballs thrown was 84 miles per hour. According to Grey (and the Rangers, who confirmed the radar readings) he threw one at 84, one at 82, and “the rest 78-81.”

Webb told Grey afterward that he thought the outing went “better than expected,” but throwing in the low-80s after numerous setbacks paints an awfully pessimistic picture for his chances of contributing positively to the Rangers this season. Even before the injury his velocity wasn’t overpowering, as he averaged 87-89 miles per hour, but it’s a long way from 78-81 to 88-90 and Webb seemingly isn’t making any progress.

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.