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Manuel Margot doing it all for Rays: getting hits, counseling Wander Franco

Notes | His career-best hit streak at 15, the veteran outfielder is making suggestions to the slumping shortstop, like smiling more.
Tampa Bay Rays' Manuel Margot hits an RBI single against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 28, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
Tampa Bay Rays' Manuel Margot hits an RBI single against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 28, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette) [ SCOTT AUDETTE | AP ]
Published May 28|Updated May 29

ST. PETERSBURG — Manuel Margot is doing what he can to help the Rays around the eight games he missed with a hamstring strain, from providing counsel to struggling second-year shortstop Wander Franco to delivering key hits and much more in between.

In the eighth inning Saturday, Margot singled in Franco for an important insurance run in the 3-1 win over the Yankees.

In doing so, he extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games — 11 before being sidelined, four since returning Wednesday — and is hitting .451 (23-for-51) with 16 RBIs in doing so. Margot’s streak is the longest active one in the American League, and the longest by a Ray since Austin Meadows did 16 in September 2019. The Rays record is 19, set by Jason Bartlett in 2019.

“I try not to think about stuff like that,” said Margot, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I try to just have a good at-bat, hopefully make good contact. If I think about things like that, it affects the way you play. So I try to just (take it) one game at a time.”

Before Saturday’s game, Margot said he was trying to advise Franco, who is 6-for-his-last-38, and hitting .216 (18-for-88) for May.

Manuel Margot, left, says he tells Wander Franco not to be quite so in his head during games and have fun.
Manuel Margot, left, says he tells Wander Franco not to be quite so in his head during games and have fun. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

“I always try to help him out,” Margot said. “I always try to tell him to be smiling a little bit more, don’t be so frustrated.

“Even during the games, he asks me for some advice and I may not give him the advice that he wants or the information that he wants. (But) I just try to make sure that he has fun when he’s out there.”

More specifically, Margot suggested Franco spend some time watching video from earlier this season, “see what was going good and what is going bad so that you can hopefully make an adjustment where it needs to be.”

Corey Kluber rebounds with strong outing

After lasting just three innings in two of his last three outings, Corey Kluber delivered a strong start, holding the Yankees to one run and three hits over six innings, getting some help from his defense, such as rightfielder Brett Phillips doubling Aaron Judge off first. J.P. Feyeriesen, Jason Adam and Colin Poche finished for the Rays.

“He was outstanding,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He navigated through that (first) inning ... but after that he kicked it in gear pretty good. His stuff looked really good.”

Kluber said the prime difference from his tougher outings was “just controlling the zone better. Nothing too complicated. It was really just that.”

Should it be McClanahan with a K?

Not only has Shane McClanahan expanded his repertoire and pitched better overall, but he learned to throw more strikes in the big leagues than he did in the minors, evidenced by his majors co-leading 74 strikeouts. The change was as much in mentality as anything else.

“You just get really tired of walking people,” he said. “To be blunt with you, it just frustrated me. I was really sick of the notion, ‘He doesn’t throw strikes, he’s going to be a bullpen arm.’ It makes you work a little harder.”

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McClanahan starts Sunday against the Yankees, having gone 0-2, 5.84 in three previous outings.

Miscellany

The sellout crowd of 25,025 (with the upper deck closed) was the second of the season. ... The Rays notched their seventh come-from-behind win and improved to 22-5 when allowing three or fewer runs. ... Saturday was the first of five times the team will wear the throwback Devil Rays jerseys. ... After playing catch Friday and Saturday, reliever Andrew Kittredge said his previously tight back feels much better. He plans to resume throwing off the mound Sunday, pitch in a rehab game or two and return on or around Friday, when eligible. … Starter Luis Patino (oblique) threw a bullpen session Saturday and will advance to live batting practice Wednesday.

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