Yanks’ Severino getting MRI for shoulder tightness

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CHICAGO — Yankees right-hander Luis Severino will get an MRI on Monday after he was scratched from a rehab start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night because of shoulder tightness.

An All-Star in 2017 and 2018, Severino missed most of 2019 with shoulder and lat injuries. He had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in February 2020, sidelining him last season and throughout 2021. He was nearing his return before Friday’s setback.

Manager Aaron Boone said Saturday the Yankees “hope to have clear picture” on the 27-year-old after his exam and imaging.

“I feel awful for him because I know how hard he’s worked,” Boone said. “We’ll find out more on Monday. Hopefully it’s something minor and another small bump in the road.”

Boone said the RailRiders’ coaching staff noticed something wasn’t right with Severino’s throwing as he warmed up Friday. The right-hander didn’t push back when they cancelled the start “because it didn’t feel right.”

Even if Severino had started successfully, Boone said the righty probably would have needed one more rehab outing before rejoining New York.

CLOSED OUT

Zack Britton told Boone he should be removed from the closer’s role after blowing a ninth-inning lead Thursday against the White Sox. The left-hander has a 6.02 ERA, walking 12 and striking out 12 in 15 2/3 innings.

Boone expects to use right-handers Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green to close games while the team awaits the return of Aroldis Chapman (left elbow inflammation). Britton, who gave up Tim Anderson‘s game-ending, homer in the Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa, will be slotted elsewhere.

KLUBER PROGRESS

RHP Corey Kluber (right shoulder strain) struggled with control in his rehab outing at Double-A Somerset on Thursday, but Boone said the two-time Cy Young Award winner “bounced back well and felt good” and was set for a start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday.

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.