Pirates closer Jason Grilli on track to return Saturday

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From Bill Brink at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette …

Jason Grilli threw another 20-pitch simulated game and said he felt good.

“I would venture a guess that Saturday would be a real strong likely case that I would be out there,” Grilli said.

It was important for Grilli to face major league hitters rather than minor league competition. He said he does not need a rehab assignment.

Grilli has been on the disabled list since April 21 because of a left oblique strain. Mark Melancon has done an admirable job as the Pirates’ fill-in closer over the past four weeks but will presumably slide back into a setup role by early next week.

Grilli has a 2.83 ERA and 40 saves in 149 1/3 innings since joining the Bucs in 2011.

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.