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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott backs out of Texas Rangers’ first pitch over MLB’s decision to move All-Star Game from Georgia

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday afternoon that he will not be throwing out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers‘ home opener, as had been scheduled, because of Major League Baseball’s response to voting laws recently passed in Georgia.

“I was looking forward to throwing out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opening game until @MLB adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about Georgia’s election law reforms. It is shameful that America’s pastime is being influenced by partisan politics,” the Republican governor tweeted.

In an additional statement, Abbott said that he will not “participate in an event held by MLB, and the State will not seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special events.”

On Friday, MLB announced that this summer’s All-Star Game was being moved out of Atlanta in response to a new Georgia law that has civil rights groups concerned about its potential to restrict voting access for people of color.

Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star Game and events, along with the amateur draft, from Atlanta after discussions with individual big leaguers and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.

Last month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a sweeping, Republican-sponsored bill that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. The bill, which also prohibits volunteers from distributing food and water to voters waiting in line, was finalized on March 25 roughly 15 miles from the Braves’ stadium, Truist Park.

The new voting law came in the wake of the first Democratic victories in presidential and Senate elections in Georgia in a generation, which triggered repeated unproven assertions by former President Donald Trump that the state’s election was fraudulent. Supporters of the new law have said it merely ensures election integrity and stamps out potential fraud, while critics have described it as a voter suppression tactic that would make it more difficult for minorities, particularly people of color, to vote, citing how it reduces ballot access in urban communities that lean Democrat.

In his statement Monday, Abbott chastised MLB for “perpetuating false political narratives.”

After going 1-2 in a season-opening road series against the Kansas City Royals, the Rangers will return to a full-capacity crowd at Globe Life Field for their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon.

Information from ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez was used in this report.



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Del Crandall, star Milwaukee Braves catcher who managed two teams, dies at 91

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MISSION VIEJO, Calif. — Del Crandall, a star catcher who played on two Milwaukee Braves teams that reached the World Series in the 1950s before managing the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners, has died. He was 91.

He had Parkinson’s disease and died Wednesday in Mission Viejo, California, surrounded by family, son Bill Crandall said.

“Dad was a humble man,” Bill Crandall said. “He was just a good man, a good example of what a man should be. He treated everybody fairly. He didn’t take his celebrity seriously at all.”

Crandall was one of the best defensive catchers in the 1950s and ’60s. He was a member of the Braves’ 1957 World Series championship team and the 1958 squad that lost the World Series. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Crandall was the last surviving member of the Boston Braves.

He was a four-time Gold Glove winner who appeared in 11 All-Star Games over eight seasons. He played in each of the two All-Star Games that were held during the 1959, 1960 and 1962 seasons.

Crandall played for the Boston Braves (1949-50), Milwaukee Braves (1953-63), San Francisco Giants (1964), Pittsburgh Pirates (1965) and Cleveland Indians (1966). He didn’t play in 1951-52 because of military service.

He had a career batting average of .254 with 179 homers and 657 RBIs. He led all National League catchers in fielding percentage four times and threw out the most potential base stealers of any NL catcher in five seasons. He was also behind the plate for two outstanding Braves pitchers in Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette.

After his playing career, Crandall managed the Brewers from 1972 to 1975 and the Mariners from 1983 to 1984. He posted a 271-338 record with Milwaukee and a 93-131 mark with Seattle.

Crandall was managing the Brewers when Hall of Famer Robin Yount began his MLB career in 1974 at the age of 18.

“Fortunately he saw enough potential in a raw 18-year-old kid to give me a chance,” Yount said in his Hall of Fame induction speech. “I’m grateful for that.”

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Toronto Blue Jays’ George Springer likely out more than 10 days

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TORONTO — Blue Jays outfielder George Springer is not expected to be ready to return to the lineup when his latest stint on the 10-day injured list ends May 13, general manager Ross Atkins said Thursday.

Also Thursday, the Blue Jays activated left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu off the injured list to start an afternoon game against Oakland. Ryu left an April 25 start at Tampa Bay because of a strained right gluteal muscle.

Springer landed on the injured list Wednesday after aggravating his strained right quadriceps, with the move retroactive to May 3. Springer had been out of the lineup for two days before undergoing an MRI Wednesday morning.

“I would expect it would take more than just the IL stint,” Atkins said. “There’s a chance I’m wrong, but based on the information that I have right now I would expect that it would take longer than that IL stint.”

Springer signed a team-record $150 million, six-year deal with the Blue Jays this offseason but didn’t make his season debut until April 28 because of two separate injuries, first a strained oblique muscle and later the quadriceps injury.

Atkins said Springer reported feeling better Thursday than the previous day, but said the 2017 World Series MVP with Houston is “obviously very frustrated” by his limited action so far this season.

Springer hit two home runs in Saturday’s win over Atlanta, his third game since returning, but also felt pain while running out a groundball. He left Sunday’s game after three at-bats due to fatigue.

“All the information we had at the time suggested it was safe to take the next step and, unfortunately, we had a setback,” Atkins said of Springer’s aborted return from injury.

Springer started at DH in all four games and has yet to play the outfield for the Blue Jays. He did play center field in a simulated game at Toronto’s alternate site, and had been expected to play the outfield last weekend, Atkins said.

Springer will have a “minimal workload” as he attempts to recover from the quad strain, Atkins said.

Right-hander David Phelps was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday because of right lat strain. Phelps came in to pitch the eighth inning in Wednesday’s victory over the Athletics but had to leave after feeling pain while warming up.

Atkins said infielder Joe Panik had an MRI Thursday after feeling calf pain while running out a grounderl Wednesday. Atkins also said catcher Alejandro Kirk is expected to miss at least four weeks, and possibly more, because of a left flexor strain. Kirk was placed on the 10-day injured injured list Sunday.

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Los Angeles Angels designate slugger Albert Pujols for assignment

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Albert Pujols has been designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels, the team announced Thursday.

Pujols is slashing .198/.250/.372 in 92 plate appearances this year with five home runs and 12 RBIs. For his career, the 10-time All-Star has slashed .298/.376/.545 with 667 home runs and 2,112 RBIs.

“The Angels Organization proudly signed Albert Pujols in 2011, and are honored that he has worn an Angels jersey for nearly half of his Hall-of-Fame Career. Albert’s historical accomplishments, both on and off the field, serve as an inspiration to athletes everywhere, and his actions define what it means to be a true Superstar. Since his Rookie of the Year Season in 2001, Albert and his wife Deidre have generously given their time and resources to countless charities throughout the world. We are thankful to the entire Pujols Family,” Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a statement.

Pujols’ 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels expires after this season. He said in February that he hadn’t decided whether to continue playing after this season.

Pujols, 41, batted .328 with 445 homers while winning three NL MVP awards in 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, but has been a .256 hitter with 222 homers over nine-plus seasons in Anaheim.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan contributed to this report.

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