Starlin Castro banned 30 games under MLB policy; Nats to release him

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — Washington Nationals infielder Starlin Castro has been suspended for 30 games without pay and fined an undisclosed amount for violating Major League Baseball’s policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Shortly after MLB announced the penalty, the Nationals said they would release Castro when the ban concludes.

Castro will be ineligible for the postseason under the terms of the suspension and will be required to undergo evaluation and treatment, MLB said.

“Having reviewed all the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Castro violated our policy and that discipline is appropriate,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said earlier this month, while MLB was investigating allegations against Castro, that he didn’t plan on having him back with the team this season.

“We take all allegations of abuse and harassment very seriously. We fully support the commissioner’s decision,” the team said in a statement after the MLB announcement.

Castro was was accused of sexual assault in connection with a 2011 incident in Chicago but was not charged. Rizzo said Castro was vetted before the Nationals signed him to a two-year contract in January 2020, adding that he was “angered” by the new allegations.

The 31-year-old Castro is a 12-year major league veteran and a four-time All-Star who has played for the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees and Miami Marlins. He played 87 games for Washington this season, mostly starting at third base.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.