Orioles’ Jason Hammel set for knee surgery

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Jason Hammel, who has lost four straight starts trying to pitch with a sore right knee, will undergo surgery and miss at least three weeks, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.

Hammel has loose cartilage floating around in the knee that he needs taken out.

“Where it was before it was kind of uncomfortable,” Hammel said. “Now it is kind of in the joint, kind of pinned into the joint, so every time I bend the knee it pretty much hits the nerve in the area, so it’s not very comfortable right now.”

Hammel nearly made the AL All-Star team after opening the season 8-2 with a 2.61 ERA, but he’s given up 17 runs in 19 2/3 innings in his last four outings, all of them losses.

The Orioles haven’t announced who will replace him in the rotation, but Tommy Hunter appears to be the likely choice. Even though Brian Matusz pitched a shutout in his first start after being sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, manager Buck Showalter isn’t keen on the idea of bringing him back so quickly.

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.