J.J. Putz cleared to begin rehab assignment

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Five weeks after being placed on the disabled list with a strained elbow Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A.

According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com the plan is for Putz to pitch Thursday and Saturday, take Sunday off, and then try to work back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. If that all goes well, he’d likely come off the disabled list in the middle of next week.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson avoided saying that Putz would be handed the closer job once healthy, leaving the door open due to Heath Bell converting 11 of 12 save chances in his absence.

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.