Jason Grilli beginning minor league rehab assignment Saturday

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After suffering a right forearm strain in July, Pirates closer Jason Grilli vowed to make it back before the end of the season. And he’s well on his way to meeting that goal.

According to Tom Singer of MLB.com, Grilli will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona today and throw around 20 pitches. He’s expected to make another appearance on Monday before moving up Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday. He could be cleared to return after that if all goes well.

Grilli was one of game’s the best feel-good stories prior to the injury, posting a 2.34 ERA, 30 saves and a 66/10 K/BB ratio over 42 1/3 innings while earning his first All-Star selection. Mark Melancon has filled in quite nicely as the closer, but having a healthy and effective Grilli back would provide a nice boost in the late innings.

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.