Ryan Howard, Chase Utley take live batting practice

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Ryan Howard and Chase Utley continue to inch their way back to playing shape. Yesterday Utley took batting practice and then some grounders.  According to the report by Bob Brookover, however, the infield practice was limited and, given that playing second is what gives his knee the most trouble, there’s a lot of reason for tempering optimism.

Howard, however, played in what the Phillies call a simulated game on Wednesday and, between that and the other workouts he’s been doing, seems like he’s poised for a rehab assignment soon.

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.