A’s release veteran reliever Brian Fuentes

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Not surprisingly the A’s couldn’t find a taker for Brian Fuentes and his contract after designating him for assignment last week, so today they released the veteran reliever.

Fuentes was briefly Oakland’s closer this season, stepping into the ninth-inning role when Grant Balfour struggled, but lost that job to rookie Ryan Cook.

He was owed about $2.5 million for the second half and another $250,000 to buy out his 2013 option, so the A’s will eat that money and Fuentes is free to sign elsewhere for a prorated share of the minimum salary (or perhaps even a minor-league deal).

At age 36 he’s no longer late-inning material, but Fuentes could still help some teams as a secondary setup man or middle reliever.

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.