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Rays say Wander Franco’s 0-for-16 and .105 average not a concern

Rays notes | Quality of at-bats and number of hard-hit balls are more telling, manager Kevin Cash says.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco fields a ground ball and makes the throw to first for the out in the fifth inning Saturday against the Angels.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco fields a ground ball and makes the throw to first for the out in the fifth inning Saturday against the Angels. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Jun. 27, 2021
Updated Jun. 27, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG ― Wander Franco is getting a sense of how tough the major leagues can be.

After swatting a homer and a double in his Tuesday debut, the 20-year-old top prospect is hitless since, 0-for-16 with five strikeouts (including his first 3-K game as a pro on Thursday) and four walks. He is hitting .105.

Manager Kevin Cash said there is no reason for concern, citing a number of balls Franco has hit hard, such as a 109.6 mph lineout to right on Saturday against the Angels and some quality at-bats, including his bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning.

Also how Franco has played defense, coming back from a third-inning error Saturday to make several good plays.

What are the Rays seeing so far from their prized and promising rookie?

“Nothing that we’re concerned about,’' Cash said. “(Friday) he just misses a ball off a lefty and flies out to left. He flew out to left (Saturday) again. He smoked a ball that the rightfielder made a nice play on.

“He keeps hitting balls hard like that, they’re going to find holes. But no concern whatsoever. Thrilled that we have him.’'

Medical matters

• Reliever Nick Anderson threw off the bullpen mound for the second time in four days and said the right-elbow sprain that has sidelined him since spring is feeling better, keeping him on track for a mid-August return. “Progress is good,’' he said. “I’m pretty happy with everything. Last couple of weeks, I feel like I’ve made some pretty good strides.’' Cash they were “encouraged” by the progress. “I’m trying to kind of stay out of it in the fact that I don’t want to get too excited,’' he said.

• Reliever Oliver Drake, sidelined all season with a flexor tendon strain, is also progressing on a similar timetable to Anderson.

• Lefty Brendan McKay also threw a bullpen session as he continues his rehab from August 2020 shoulder surgery, with plans to throw two innings/30 pitches Tuesday in a game at the Rays complex in Port Charlotte. Depending on how he does and feels, he could move up to a full-season affiliate to start an official rehab assignment, building up as a starter.

The 500 club

Kevin Cash on Friday earned his 500th win, beating predecessor Joe Maddon to do it. Here is a look at five managers the Rays have had:

Name (years) W L Pct.

Kevin Cash (2015-present) 501 447 .528

Joe Maddon (2006-14) 754 705 .517

Lou Piniella (2003-05) 200 285 .412

Hal McRae (2001-02) 113 196 .369

Larry Rothschild (1998-01) 205 294 .411

Miscellany

• Coming off Tuesday’s miserable two-inning outing against Boston working behind an opener, Ryan Yarbrough will start Sunday’s series finale as the Rays look to sweep the seven-game season series with the Angels.

• Outfielder Randy Arozarena is the only Ray with a chance to be a finalist and advance to the next round of All-Star voting, with the top nine, and the top three at all other positions, announced Sunday.

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• Saturday’s attendance of 16,699 was a season high. “We had a lot of fans today, so I’m glad that we kind of showed off for them,’' said first baseman Ji-Man Choi, via team interpreter Steve Nam.

• Right-hander Luis Patino extended his scoreless streak at Triple-A Durham to 17 innings Friday with a dazzling five-inning out, striking out 11 (including his last nine).

• • •

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