Angels place Howie Kendrick on DL, sign Russell Branyan

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Howie Kendrick tested his injured hamstring by running and fielding grounders earlier this week, but he hasn’t played since May 19 and today the Angels finally placed him on the disabled list.

To fill Kendrick’s roster spot the Angels have signed free agent Russell Branyan, who was released by the Diamondbacks last week after being passed on the depth chart by Juan Miranda.

Branyan tends not to stay in one place for very long because teams get frustrated with his huge strikeout totals, but the guy can hit and with Kendry Morales out for the season and the .322-hitting Kendrick now sidelined too the Angels can certainly use some more power in the lineup.

Branyan has an .816 OPS with 35 homers per 500 at-bats for his career and can be particularly productive if spotted primarily versus right-handed pitching. He could form a platoon with the right-handed-hitting Mark Trumbo at first base or spend most of his time at designated hitter, with Bobby Abreu shifting to left field instead of the Reggie Willits-Alexi Amarista platoon.

And if manager Mike Scioscia really wants to get crazy Branyan has over 2,400 career innings at third base and another 1,500 innings in an outfield corner, so he brings some useful versatility along with a bat that produced 25 homers in 376 at-bats last year and 31 homers in 431 at-bats in 2009.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.