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Wander Franco returns to Rays lineup, but still on day-to-day status

Notes | Ongoing leg issues put his availability in question; commissioner Rob Manfred visits the Trop.
Wander Franco returned to the Rays lineup Tuesday against the Marlins, but the team is still being cautious with him.
Wander Franco returned to the Rays lineup Tuesday against the Marlins, but the team is still being cautious with him. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published May 24|Updated May 25

ST. PETERSBURG — Shortstop Wander Franco returned to the Rays lineup for Tuesday’s game, and the team is expecting to have infielder Yandy Diaz and outfielder Manuel Margot back on Wednesday.

Franco has been bothered by issues in both legs — quads and hamstrings — for the last month, and said they could be attributed at least in part to adjusting to playing regularly on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field.

So his return to action Tuesday doesn’t necessarily mean he will be able to go back to playing daily, and he may have to be evaluated regularly.

“I would imagine closer to the day-to-day,” manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s been day-to-day since the first leg issue kind of came up.”

Franco felt discomfort running the bases Friday in Baltimore, sat out Saturday and pinch-hit Sunday, playing two innings on defense. He was 0-for-4 Tuesday, and just 2-for-his-last-39, his average down to .255 and his homerless streak up to 23 games.

Diaz was still sore but feeling better after straining his left shoulder sliding head first into home plate Saturday in Baltimore. He was available off the bench Tuesday with a plan to start Wednesday.

Margot, who has been on the injured list with a right hamstring strain, felt good after playing in extended spring games on Monday (as the DH) and Tuesday (in centerfield) and is expected to be activated on Wednesday. The Rays will have to send down either a reliever or infielder to make room.

Reliever Andrew Kittredge said his back is already feeling better, and he would expect to be ready to return from the injured list when eligible on June 3.

Talking with the boss

A handful of Rays players met Tuesday afternoon in a Trop suite with commissioner Rob Manfred, who is visiting with all teams, seeking a more open dialogue.

“I think he’s just trying to interact with players more, just because this winter got ugly (during the lockout), and he’s just trying to make things right,” said centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who attended the hour-plus session. “Communication is first and foremost with a lot of things. He just wanted to make it a point to kind of travel across the league ... to say, ‘Hey, ask me whatever you want. Let’s just have a behind-the-scenes chat about whatever you guys want to cover. I’m here for it.’ It was good, a good talk.”

Manfred also met with Marlins players and stopped at the Tampa Tarpons minor-league game. He did not meet with Rays team officials to talk about the stadium issue and was said to have not met with area political leaders either.

Miscellany

The shutout was the Rays’ fourth this season. .... Kiermaier was among the Rays disappointed not to see ex-mate Joey Wendle, who is rehabbing a hamstring issue with a Marlins minor-league team: “He’s awesome. He’s nothing crazy, fancy. He’s unique, one of a kind. Great dad, great husband, great baseball player, great friend, great teammate. I’m speaking for everyone. There’s not one person who had anything bad to say about him. ... He’s just a ballplayer.” ... Double-A Montgomery is set to resume play on Wednesday after cancelling six games due to a COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in 18 players testing positive. … Right-hander Shane Baz (arthroscopic elbow surgery) is slated to make his second rehab start Wednesday for Triple-A Durham; he is eligible to be activated on June 6.

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