Michael Morse aggravates lat muscle tear, will be in “total shutdown mode” for six weeks

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Michael Morse was on the verge of coming off the disabled list when he experienced pain while throwing on his minor-league rehab assignment and the news on the Nationals left fielder isn’t good.

General manager Mike Rizzo told reporters that Morse aggravated his torn lat muscle and will be in “total shutdown mode” for at least six weeks, adding that surgery is not an option to repair the injury.

That would still leave some time for Morse to potentially return before the All-Star break, but given his previous setback seeing him in the Nationals’ lineup before the second half seems unlikely. Morse is a huge loss, as he emerged as one of the league’s top hitters during the past two seasons while batting .298 with 31 homers and an .896 OPS in 163 games.

Calling up Bryce Harper from Triple-A to replace Morse isn’t a consideration according to Rizzo, so instead the Nationals will turn to some combination of Mark DeRosa, Xavier Nady, and Roger Bernadina in bigger roles.

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.