The Yankees played before their smallest crowd in 13 years last night

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Last night the Yankees lost to the Toronto Blue Jays. Paid attendance: 25,566.

That’d be fine for some teams — nine teams are averaging less than that per game so far this year — but it was a dubious record for the Yankees. Indeed, it was their smallest home crowd since they moved into the new Yankee Stadium back in 2009 and their smallest crowd overall since 2004.

For the season, the Yankees are averaging 35,588, which is the sixth best in baseball. Last year they were sixth best in baseball for the whole season, averaging 37,819. It’s early in the year and attendance ticks up when the weather gets nicer and school is out, so it’s likely they’re going to do about as well as they did last season. Or better if they continue their recent hot run and contend deeply into the season.

But it does show that a couple of years as only a marginal contender and a lot of new faces causes some people to stay away. In this the Yankees are like every other team, none of which has any guarantee of full or near-full houses. There is only one guarantee: win, and people come.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.