Giants weigh having Pablo Sandoval catch upon return

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Pablo Sandoval opened his pro career as a catcher and caught in 14 major league games as a rookie in 2008 and sophomore in 2009. Now, with Buster Posey done for the season due to a fractured ankle, the Giants are considering reintroducing him to the position and using him there on a part-time basis.

“I think he’d be fine behind the plate, too, and don’t think we haven’t discussed that,” manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News.

Asked to elaborate, Bochy said:

It’s come up. It’s not something we’ve ruled out, and we may discuss it further. But for right now, the plan is to play him at third base for the most part.

Sandoval was never very highly regarded as a defensive catcher and likely would have been moved even if the Giants didn’t make Posey the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft. Bochy indicated that if the Giants did try him there again, it’d strictly be a part-time thing.

Sandoval is expected back Tuesday after missing six weeks with a fractured hamate bone. If the Giants really intend to put him behind the plate on occasion, then it becomes quite a bit more likely that they’ll keep Miguel Tejada around for a while longer.

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.