Yankees dropping in attendance, ratings

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Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal has some interesting figures in his latest column about the Yankees:

Through Wednesday, the average ratings for Yankee games on the YES Network were down 38% compared to the same period last season, according to Nielsen figures.

The drop is even more remarkable when you consider that last year’s ratings were the Yankees’ lowest since 2003.

In the stands, the trend has been similar, if not quite as pronounced. The Yankees are drawing an average home crowd of 39,103, still the fourth highest in baseball but a 6% drop from what it was over the same period in 2012.

The Yankees have been without most of their recognizable faces this year, namely Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, so that is one explanation. Costa also notes that the team has had to compete with the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, and Islanders as all four made the post-season in their respective sports.

Ultimately, though, despite the Yankees’ ability to hang around first place in the AL East in the face of adversity, they do have a philosophical debate to address with Robinson Cano’s pending free agency. Is their attendance and viewership buoyed by the presence of marquee players? If so, Costa writes, they may feel that keeping Cano in town no matter the price and no matter the contract length is imperative.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.