Pirates starter Charlie Morton to begin year on disabled list

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Last month Charlie Morton was said to be “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from October hip surgery, but the Pirates right-hander will begin the season on the disabled list.

However, it’s not necessarily a setback, as the Pirates won’t need a fifth starter until April 14 and for now at least the plan is for Morton to come off the DL and pitch that game.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that in the meantime Morton will pitch a simulated game next week and then start a Triple-A game on April 9.

Morton was a pleasant surprise for the Pirates last season, throwing 172 innings with a 3.83 ERA thanks to allowing just six homers in 769 plate appearances. He had the third-highest ground-ball rate in baseball behind Jake Westbrook and Derek Lowe.

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.