Jose Bautista takes batting practice, nears activation

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Jose Bautista is finally making steady progress in his rehabilitation from left wrist inflammation.

According to Shi Davidi of Canada’s Sportsnet, the slugger was able to take live batting practice off Blue Jays manager John Farrell on Thursday at Rogers Centre in Toronto and is on track to begin a minor league rehab assignment early next week.

Bautista will spend Friday in recovery mode before participating in normal pregame workouts with his teammates on Saturday and Sunday. If he’s still feeling strong at that point, he should get clearance to head to one of the Blue Jays’ minor league affiliates on Monday or Tuesday.

“Joey Bats” has been out of commission since mid-July. He has an .894 OPS and 27 homers this season.

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.