Hey, look: Alfonso Soriano is hitting again

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Alfonso Soriano’s huge contract and disappointing production already made him the target of Cubs fans’ scorn, so when he got off to a slow start this season that only increased along with the perception that his presence was playing a part in top prospect Anthony Rizzo remaining in the minors.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Soriano being washed up: He started hitting again.

Soriano had a .200 batting average, zero extra-base hits, and a measly .420 OPS on April 23, but in 29 games since then he’s hit .306 with seven homers, nine doubles, and a .923 OPS.

Soriano might have already been a goner if not for the fact that the Cubs are paying him $18 million this season and owe him the same salaries in 2013 and 2014, but whatever the reason for his remaining Chicago’s everyday left fielder the story surrounding his hitting ability at age 36 has changed dramatically.

There’s still no chance of the Cubs finding a taker for the rest of Soriano’s contract, but at least he’s not just “the guy holding back Rizzo” any longer. For now, anyway.

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.