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Houston Astros minor leaguer Forrest Whitley, one of the game’s top pitching prospects, has been suspended 50 games for a violation of minor league baseball’s drug program, Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday.

Whitley’s suspension is without pay.

“Obviously as an organization we’re going to suffer a little bit, but we’re still hopeful and optimistic that Forrest can be a big part of our future,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

Whitley, 20, was the Astros’ first-round pick in 2016 (17th overall). A product of Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio, Whitley advanced from low-A ball to Double-A last season. He was a combined 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 92⅓ innings with three minor league teams last season, including four appearances for Double-A Corpus Christi in which he posted a 1.84 ERA.

Luhnow wouldn’t provide details on what led to the suspension, but he did say Whitley was remorseful and he believes he will learn from his mistake.

“On the pitching side I don’t have any concerns, he’s going to continue to develop and this is part of maturity,” Luhnow said. “When you’re a high school player and you get drafted and you’re a top prospect there’s a lot of pressure that goes along with that role. And I don’t know if that had anything to do with this, but there’s a maturation process going from high school and the big leagues and this is one step along the way for him.”

The Astros have fended off recent trade interest in the 6-foot-7 right-hander, who is ranked eighth among the top 100 prospects this spring, according to ESPN’s Keith Law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Washington Nationals’ Juan Soto (left shoulder) goes on 10-day injured list

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The Washington Nationals placed star outfielder Juan Soto on the 10-day injured list with a strained left shoulder, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.

Soto, 22, will have to sit out at least the next seven games; the Nationals have three off days during his IL stint.

The team recalled outfielder Yadiel Hernandez from their alternate site to replace Soto on the roster.

Soto is hitting .300 in 14 games this season.

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Slumping New York Yankees shake up lineup against Atlanta Braves

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NEW YORK — New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone made three changes to the starting lineup of his slumping team against Atlanta on Tuesday night, inserting first baseman Mike Ford and left fielder Mike Tauchman and giving Brett Gardner his second start this season in center field.

DJ LeMahieu moved back to second base from first, and center fielder Aaron Hicks, left fielder Clint Frazier and second baseman Rougned Odor moved to the bench.

New York has lost five straight games, dropping to 5-10 for its worst start since 1997.

The switch-hitting Hicks was batting .160, including 3 for 32 vs. right-handers, Frazier was hitting .167 with no RBI and Odor was batting .125.

Ford was to make his season debut. He was recalled from the alternate training site and took the roster spot of Jay Bruce, who hit .118 and retired Sunday.

Jameson Taillon started for the Yankees, who were starting a stretch of games on 13 consecutive days. Charlie Morton started for Atlanta.

Boone said he might give Hicks another day off Wednesday.

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Infielder Neil Walker retires after 12 MLB seasons

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Veteran infielder Neil Walker announced his retirement Tuesday after 12 major league seasons.

Born in Pittsburgh, he played his first seven seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates before playing for the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies over his final five seasons.

Walker, 35, made his announcement on Twitter, writing, “thank you to everyone that helped me in my journey to live out my childhood dream of being a Major Leaguer, I loved & cherished every day.”

The Pirates selected Walker with the 11th-overall pick of the 2004 draft and he went on to hit 93 home runs with 418 RBIs while slashing .272/.338/.431 in 836 games. His best major league season came in 2014 when he hit .271 and set career bests with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs, earning a Silver Slugger award. His 23 home runs broke Bill Mazeroski’s franchise record for home runs in a season by a second baseman.

Walker played for the Phillies during the 2020 pandemic shortened season, appearing in 18 games.

Overall, Walker finishes his major league career with 149 home runs and 609 RBIs and a slash line of .267/.338/.426.



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