Mets lose lefty reliever Tim Byrdak to knee surgery

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UPDATE: General manager Sandy Alderson expects Byrdak to be ready for game action in about six weeks, which could mean a late-April debut.

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Scott Hairston’s oblique injury means the Mets may look to a converted left-handed pitcher to serve as their backup center fielder and now Tim Byrdak’s knee injury means they’re in need of an actual left-handed pitcher for the bullpen.

Byrdak is scheduled to undergo knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which at the very least will keep him sidelined beyond Opening Day.

Byrdak signed a one-year, $1 million extension with the Mets in September and was slated to be their left-handed specialist after throwing 38 innings with a 3.82 ERA and 47/19 K/BB ratio last season. At age 38 how well he’ll come back from knee surgery is unclear, but Byrdak has quietly posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each season since 2007 and held lefties to a .222 batting average in 2011.

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.