Mariners release oft-injured reliever Hong-Chih Kuo

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Hong-Chih Kuo has been a mess all spring as he attempts to come back from elbow surgery and anxiety issues. Today the Mariners decided they’d seen enough, releasing the once-dominant left-hander.

When healthy Kuo has been one of the best relievers in baseball, logging 170 innings with a 1.96 ERA and 201 strikeouts from 2008-2010, but he coughed up 29 runs in 27 innings last season before going under the knife and got knocked around for 14 runs in 6.2 innings this spring.

Kuo’s one-year, $500,000 deal with Seattle would have jumped to $1 million if he cracked the Opening Day roster and included several million dollars in potential incentives. He was good enough recently enough that several teams will likely still be interested in taking a flier on Kuo, but he’ll almost surely have to settle for a minor-league deal and work his way back to the majors.

His most recent elbow surgery was the fifth of his career and Kuo has bounced back in the past, but at age 30 he’s a bigger question mark than ever and showed diminished velocity this month.

Minor League Baseball eclipses 40 million in attendance for 14th consecutive season

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Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.

ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:

Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”

Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.