Grant Balfour needs knee surgery, out 4-6 weeks

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How quickly spring training shifts from the “Best Shape of His Life” stage to the “Players Being Injured” stage.

A’s closer Grant Balfour will miss 4-6 weeks following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, which apparently bothered him at the end of last season and then continued to be an issue when he started throwing this week.

Balfour might have time to be ready for Opening Day and if not he shouldn’t miss many games. Oakland has good bullpen depth anyway, with Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle as the most likely fill-in closers.

Balfour came into last season with just 10 career saves through age 33, but saved 24 games with a 2.53 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 75 innings. Dating back to 2008 he has a 2.78 ERA in 318 innings while holding opponents to a .191 batting average.

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.