Chicago White Sox catcher Castillo apologizes for failed drug test
For a change, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was enjoying what he was seeing on the field Wednesday night.
"We had ourselves perhaps the most entertaining game of our season, with a lot of positive things happening from Dylan Covey to the way Adam Engel swung the bat, (Daniel) Palka, (Jose) Rondon," Hahn said Thursday morning. "And quite frankly, I didn't really enjoy much of it. I've gone through a lot of emotions over the last several hours."
Shock, anger and sadness all made appearances, but Hahn was mostly disappointed after learning Major League Baseball suspended Welington Castillo 80 games for testing positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), a performance-enhancing substance.
After playing in Wednesday's 11-1 rout of the Baltimore Orioles, the Sox's 31-year-old catcher started serving the suspension Thursday.
"It's disappointing," Hahn said. "We know the type of guy (Castillo) is, and he shows it, too, by standing up and accepting full responsibility for what he puts in his body, regardless of how he got it or why he did it.
"In some ways it's a lesson for these guys about being diligent, and in some ways it's a lesson about accountability. But, ultimately, it's a lesson we weren't looking to learn right now."
It's an expensive lesson for Castillo, who is going to forfeit close to $3.5 million in salary before being eligible to rejoin the White Sox in late August.
"I was recently notified by major-league baseball that I had tested positive for EPO, a substance that is prohibited under MLB's joint drug agreement," Castillo said in a statement. "The positive test resulted from an extremely poor decision that I, and I alone, made. I take full responsibility for my conduct. I have let many people down, including my family, my teammates, the White Sox organization and its fans, and from my heart, I apologize."
Castillo spoke to Hahn and Sox manager Rick Renteria about the impending suspension Wednesday night.
Renteria is close with his catcher, dating to 2014 when he managed Castillo with the Cubs. A free agent in the off-season, Castillo said playing for Renteria again was a driving reason he signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the White Sox.
"Obviously, it's a little bit of a blow for us, a young man who knows he made a mistake," Renteria said. "I think he'll learn from it. It doesn't change how I feel about him. This too shall pass, as they say, and we'll move on."
Thursday morning, Castillo apologized to his Sox teammates.
"It's a really difficult moment for all of us, our organization and for Weli," Jose Abreu said through a translator. "I spoke with him and he was very hurt. I told him we're human beings and we make mistakes. It's up to us to move forward and to learn from them. He has our support."
Omar Narvaez is now the White Sox's No. 1 catcher, and Alfredo Gonzalez gets the first crack at replacing Castillo.
Called up from Class AAA Charlotte, where he was batting .169, the 24-year-old Gonzalez has no major-league experience.
"I'm very happy to be here, even though the circumstances are not the best," Gonzalez said through a translator. "I am sad for (Castillo). I learned a lot from him, especially about calling games and things like that, but mostly the mental side of the game. He helped me a lot with that during spring training."