Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Experience let Rays' Nick Franklin know he was healthy

HOUSTON — INF/OF Nick Franklin had gone through this routine twice before, so he knew what to expect and which signs were promising, and he knew that he was ready, after 10 days, to return from his latest concussion.

"At the end of seven days it started to seem like everything was normal, when I started to go through exercises and whatnot," Franklin said Saturday after rejoining the Rays.

"It was fatigue and getting back to that workload. And understanding it's really not a big issue, that it wasn't the same as the last two. … It wasn't nearly as bad as the last concussions."

The latest occurred Aug. 17 when Franklin was conked on the helmet by teammate Kevin Kiermaier's bat as both were in the on-deck circle getting ready to hit, though Franklin took the blame.

His first, and most severe, one took place in 2011 while a minor-leaguer with Seattle under odd circumstances. Franklin said he was standing at the batting cage when another player let go of his bat on a swing, and it hit Franklin's head through the netting, forcing him to miss two months.

The second, milder one took place during a September 2013 game for the Mariners, against the Rays. Franklin was diving for a popup and got smacked by 1B Justin Smoak's knee, though he didn't miss any time.

Franklin played six innings for Class A Charlotte on Friday to make sure, then flew to Houston, striking out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

COBB UPDATE: RHP Alex Cobb made the final start of his two-month rehab assignment Saturday for Triple-A Durham, getting the improved results he was seeking, allowing just one run and five hits over four innings and throwing 58 pitches.

Cobb is now set to rejoin the Rays on Monday then make his first regular-season start since September 2014 on Friday or Saturday at the Trop.

GELTZ RETURNS: RHP Steve Geltz will be called up today to add a fresh arm to a bullpen taxed by LHP Blake Snell's early exit. OF Mikie Mahtook, who had about 25 relatives and friends in town for the series, was optioned to Durham. Geltz, 0-2, 6.75 in 21 games for the Rays, may be up just for the day as they have to make room for Cobb.

JENNINGS OUT: OF Desmond Jennings was officially released Saturday, ending a 10-year affiliation with the team. He will be on waivers until Monday afternoon, when it will be learned whether he is claimed or becomes a free agent, with the Rays responsible for the rest of his $3.3 million salary, minus a prorated share of the minimum if he signs elsewhere.

ARCHED UP: RHP Chris Archer should feel good this afternoon when he takes the mound at Minute Maid Park, scene of one of his best games, a one-hit, 98-pitch 1-0 shutout last Aug. 20. "It was a really, really good game," Archer said Saturday. "But new season, new year. I'm trying to go out there and do that every single time out."

ABOUT FRIDAY NIGHT: The Rays took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth on Mahtook's homer but lost a tough one, 5-4, as RHP Alex Colome allowed back-to-back homers to Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis, making for their fifth walkoff loss of the season. … Per ESPN, Gattis' blast came on a fastball that was 4.2 feet above the ground, making it the highest pitch hit out this year in the majors. … OF Corey Dickerson scored twice on wild pitches, joining SS Yunel Escobar, in July 2013, also in Houston, as the only Rays to do so.

MISCELLANY: Team officials are still discussing what players will be called up when rosters expand starting Thursday. C Curt Casali, INF Richie Shaffer and several relievers (prospect Ryne Stanek?) seem likely. … The Rays lost their first series to the Astros since 2008. … The Rays brought several of their major sponsors to Houston for their annual trip.

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