Pirates’ starting catcher Chris Snyder to have back surgery

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UPDATE: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that Snyder needs surgery and may be lost for the season.

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Coming into the season the Pirates had so much catching depth that they were desperately trying to trade Ryan Doumit rather than use him as a part-time outfielder, but now Doumit is on the disabled list with an ankle injury and starting catcher Chris Snyder has joined him on the shelf.

Snyder, who began the season on the DL with a lower back injury, is sidelined again by the same problem, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.

To make matters worse, would-be call-up Jason Jaramillo is on the DL at Triple-A with an elbow injury, which leaves minor-league veterans Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas to split time behind the plate in Pittsburgh for now.

Former first-round pick Tony Sanchez is the Pirates’ long-term answer at catcher, but he’s just 23 years old and not exactly dominating at Double-A with a .725 OPS in 46 games. Langosch writes that “Sanchez is not coming up … he isn’t even moving to Triple-A.” She speculates that the Pirates could claim Jake Fox off waivers after he was designated for assignment by the Orioles last week, but there are plenty of questions about how useful he can be as a catcher defensively.

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.