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Wander Franco has a quietly productive day for Rays

Rays notes | Two walks, hustle on the bases, a hard-hit out and solid defense at short cap Day 2.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco says he took it easy after his electrifying debut Tuesday, which included a three-run game-tying homer.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco says he took it easy after his electrifying debut Tuesday, which included a three-run game-tying homer. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Jun. 24, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — And on his second day as a major-leaguer, Wander Franco walked twice, hustled to first on an infield bouncer that led to a run-scoring error, lined out on a ball he hit 107.4 mph, struck out and played a solid shortstop.

Franco moved down a spot to third in the lineup, as manager Kevin Cash said he liked the idea of putting the switch-hitter between two lefties (in this case Ji-Man Choi) and Austin Meadows, to limit the effectiveness of opposing lefty relievers.

And Franco played shortstop for the first time. He was slated to make a second straight start at third base but shifted when shortstop Taylor Walls was scratched from the lineup due to a sore right wrist, which had been bothering him for a few days and was irritated by a diving play Tuesday. (Cash said Walls was just getting a day to rest and would be fine.)

Franco said he took it easy after his electrifying debut Tuesday, which included a three-run game-tying homer, a double and a highlights-worthy defensive play, hanging out with his dad and some friends.

“We just kind of hung out, talked about the game, just told some stories just about the game itself and definitely talked about (Tuesday) night,” Franco said via team interpreter Manny Navarro.

Franco, 20, also had hundreds of congratulatory texts and social media messages to scroll through, including from other big-leaguers such as Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna, Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Miami’s Starling Marte and San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., “who wrote out that it’s just the beginning.”

Umps toss Castillo’s hat out of play

The umpires took reliever Diego Castillo’s hat out of play before he took the mound in the ninth inning due to “a discoloration” on the brim, per crew chief Tom Hallion, but not any illegal substances. “It’s standard practice for closers to be inspected when they enter the game,” Hallion said in a statement.

“I noticed a discoloration on the brim of the hat. I inspected the hat and did not find any sticky substance. He was asked to change the hat for a different one.”

The hat was not confiscated, as Cash brought it back to the dugout after delivering a new one to the mound. Cash said he was told it was a matter of “wear and tear.”

Starter Rich Hill, meanwhile, said he sympathized with the umpires for having to be “monitors” and railed against the process that he said was turning “baseball into Jerry Springer.” Cash said he would look to avoid “at all costs” requesting a check of an opposing pitcher but would not rule it out.


⋅ Right-hander Michael Wacha, who had a rough last outing in Seattle, will get a second straight start, facing the Red Sox on Thursday. The Rays had considered using an opener.

⋅ After dealing with some unforeseen delays, the Rays put a limited number of Franco No. 5 T-shirts and replica jerseys on sale at the Tropicana Field team store Wednesday and will add inventory throughout the homestand.

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⋅ Bally Sports Sun reporter Tricia Whitaker, who performed a taped version of the anthem in the spring and early season, will sing it live before Thursday’s game.

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