Carl Crawford nearing a minor league rehab assignment

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Carl Crawford is finally beginning to make progress.

According to beat writer Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, the rehabbing outfielder felt no discomfort in his left elbow or wrist while playing long-toss from a distance of 110 feet on Saturday and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he is “pretty close to playing in baseball games.”

Crawford will spend around a week getting action in simulated games before embarking on a minor league rehab assignment. If he’s able to avoid setbacks, he could return to the Red Sox around the All-Star break.

The 30-year-old has been sidelined all season. He signed a seven-year, $142 million free agent contract before the 2011 campaign and batted just .255 with a measly .694 OPS in his first go-around with Boston.

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.