DETROIT — Amid the bad news of star rookie Wander Franco going on the injured list, there was an encouraging diagnosis that the right hamstring strain that forced him out of Friday’s game is mild and he could return before the Oct. 3 end of the regular season.
“That’s the hope right now,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday night’s game. “That’s where my head is. But we’ve got to wait and see the next three to four days of how he responds to treatment and how he’s feeling. But I hope that it’s before the end of the season.”
The minimum time missed for a low-grade hamstring strain is typically two to three weeks, and Cash said Franco, 20, fits in that window. “Maybe bet on his youth and athleticism in trying to stay right at that point,” he said. “But it’s still really early.”
Taylor Walls was called up from Triple-A Durham and will take over as the primary shortstop, with Joey Wendle also likely to play there.
Franco, 20, has been one of the Rays’ most dynamic players with his combination of switch-hitting offense, smooth fielding and speed on the bases. After a couple weeks of adjustment following his June 22 promotion, Franco since the All-Star break has hit .314 to raise his average from .197 to .285, and leads the American League with 41 runs scored.
What will the Rays miss most about Franco?
“I don’t know how to answer that,” Cash said. “He’s done everything offensively, defensively, really, really well. We’re just going to miss the player. But we are fortunate with a lot of good players, Walls being one, and the other guys that are on this roster, that we can overcome injuries. We’ve done it in the past. And we’re confident we’ll do it again.”
Franco was injured Friday after singling in the first inning, extending his on-base streak to 39 games, second longest among players 20 and under. He felt tightness as he turned second base, trying to score on a Nelson Cruz double.
Franco declined to speak to reporters Saturday, but Cash said he clearly was down.
“He’s frustrated, disappointed,” Cash said. “He woke up feeling better, but understanding of the situation and how important he is, and we’re not going to let him go turn whatever grade it’s rated at into a higher grade or pull the thing to where he misses just a substantial amount of time.”
Also Saturday, the Rays reinstated outfielder Randy Arozarena from the paternity list and optioned outfielder Josh Lowe, who made his big-league debut Wednesday, back to Durham.
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