Francisco Liriano, who re-signed with the Pirates for three years and $39 million this offseason, has been named the team’s Opening Day starter for the second straight season.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also announced that Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett will follow him in the rotation. Charlie Morton and either Vance Worley or Jeff Locke will grab the other two spots.
Liriano got off to a poor start last year, but then posted a 2.20 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 86 innings after the All-Star break.
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.