Brad Ausmus withdraws from Astros’ managerial race

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Brad Ausmus interviewed for the open Houston managerial position, but he withdrew from consideration for the job on Friday.

In a text message to MLB.com, he attributed the decision to “personal reasons” and said he wishes the Astros “the best of luck.”

The 43-year-old Ausmus spent nine of his 18-big league seasons with Houston, playing for the team in 1997-98 and 2001-08 before finishing up with the Dodgers in 2009-10. He was widely viewed as a future manager during his playing career.

Whether Ausmus’ decision had anything to do with his current gig as Team Israel’s manager in the World Baseball Classic is unclear. Assuming that Israel is able to advance out of the preliminary rounds, Ausmus would be tied up with the team for a portion of March, something that would definitely interfere with any sort of major league job.

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.