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Former San Francisco Giants star and Hall of Famer Willie Mays began his career with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues. He will be honored this week when MLB host a game at Rickwood Field, the former home of the Black Barons, but will not be in attendance. John Lent/Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Willie Mays will not be in attendance when the San Francisco Giants face the St. Louis Cardinals at Rickwood Field on Thursday in a game honoring him and the Negro Leagues.

Mays, who began his career in Alabama with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and played for the Giants from 1951-72, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will enjoy the game at home.

“I’m not able to get to Birmingham this year but will follow the game back here in the Bay Area,” Mays said in a statement to the paper on Monday. “My heart will be with all of you who are honoring the Negro League ballplayers, who should always be remembered, including all my teammates on the Black Barons. I wanted to thank Major League Baseball, the Giants, the Cardinals and all the fans who’ll be at Rickwood or watching the game. It’ll be a special day, and I hope the kids will enjoy it and be inspired by it.”

Mays, 93, is widely considered baseball’s greatest living player. He won the World Series with the Giants in 1954 and was a 24-time All-Star during his career, tied with Stan Musial for second-most behind Hank Aaron’s 25. Mays won the 1954 major league batting title and was voted NL MVP in 1954 and 1965.

MLB has been working with the city of Birmingham and Friends of Rickwood nonprofit group to renovate the 10,800-seat ballpark, which at 114 years old is the oldest professional ballpark in the United States.

There also will be a Double-A game at the ballpark between the Birmingham Barons and Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League on June 18.


Mays will still be honored during the week’s festivities.

RANGERS: Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom threw off a mound for the first time since reconstructive right elbow surgery just over a year ago, while the next start for Max Scherzer could be his season debut for the Texas Rangers.

DeGrom threw 15 pitches, none of them breaking balls.

“That went really well,” deGrom said. “So one day at a time. I’ve two more this week, and then just keep moving forward from there.”

DeGrom threw in the bullpen before the Rangers opened a homestand against the New York Mets, his former team, and two days before his 36th birthday. Texas signed deGrom to a $185 million, five-year deal as a free agent before the 2023 season.

The Mets are in effect paying most of Scherzer’s salary after trading the three-time Cy Young Award winner to Texas at the deadline last summer.


Scherzer, who hasn’t pitched for the Rangers since last year’s World Series, threw 4 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night. Texas Manager Bruce Bochy said before Monday’s game that he expected Scherzer’s next start to be in the big leagues, but he didn’t say when.

PHILLIES: Philadelphia activated shortstop Trea Turner from the injured list against the San Diego Padres.

Turner missed 38 games after straining his left hamstring in Philadelphia’s 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants on May 3. The four-time All-Star was hurt running the bases when he scored on a passed ball from second.

DODGERS: Mookie Betts went on the injured list for the first time this season with a broken left hand.

The 31-year-old shortstop was hit by a 97.9 mph fastball from reliever Dan Altavilla in the seventh inning of Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.

The former AL MVP and seven-time All-Star is hitting .304 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 72 games.

The Dodgers recalled outfielder Miguel Vargas for his second stint this season. He hit .250 with three doubles, one homer and four RBI in eight games. Vargas was batting .290 with eight homers and 38 RBI in 41 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

ANGELS: Struggling left-hander José Suarez was designated for assignment after his latest poor outing.

The Angels also designated infielder Cole Tucker for assignment, activated infielder Brandon Drury from the 10-day injured list and selected the contract of right-hander Zach Plesac from Triple-A Salt Lake.

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