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Wander Franco headed for weekend return to Rays

Notes | The dynamic shortstop, out since May 31, will play Wednesday-Friday for Triple-A Durham at Jacksonville and then the Rays will reassess his progress.
There is a possibility that Wander Franco will rejoin the Rays for one of their afternoon games Saturday or Sunday against the Pirates.
There is a possibility that Wander Franco will rejoin the Rays for one of their afternoon games Saturday or Sunday against the Pirates. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jun. 21|Updated Jun. 22

ST. PETERSBURG — Wander Franco did well in the first two games of his minor-league rehab assignment and will join Triple-A Durham for three games in Jacksonville with the potential to rejoin the Rays this weekend.

Franco had a double (and was caught stealing) and a single Monday for the Florida Complex League team after striking out against rehabbing Red Sox starter Chris Sale in his first at-bat. Franco played six innings at shortstop after serving as the designated hitter on Saturday.

“It was good,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Monday’s reviews.

Franco has been out since May 31 and was limited before that by a right quad strain and other leg issues.

He went to Jacksonville Tuesday with plans to take batting practice with the Bulls and play for them Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. “And then we’ll reassess,” Cash said.

That creates at least the possibility that Franco will rejoin the Rays for one of their afternoon games Saturday or Sunday against the Pirates.

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Franco’s debut in the majors. In 115 regular-season games, he has hit .281 with 11 homers, 58 RBIs and a .778 OPS while serving stints on the injured list both seasons for leg-related issues.

Good news for Anderson

Reliever Nick Anderson will resume his rehab program after getting good news about his elbow in a visit to Dr. Keith Meister. Anderson had a brace installed in his elbow in October as an alternative to more complicated Tommy John surgery and had been having some discomfort. “Nick had a good report,” Cash relayed. “(They) said everything looks really good. Dr. Meister was happy with it. (Anderson) will pick up playing catch (Wednesday).”

Also, the Rays won’t know until the end of the week how catcher Mike Zunino responded to the Botox injection they hope will alleviate symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. Second baseman Brandon Lowe resumed some very light swinging with no issue in his lower back and will take Wednesday off and then progress to more work on Thursday. And Luis Patino (oblique) was set for his second rehab start with Durham on Tuesday.

Baz ready for Yankees

Shane Baz only lasted 2-1/3 innings in his return from the injured list on June 11, but his most recent start — Friday against the Orioles — more closely resembled his outings from last year. He struck out seven of the 20 batters he faced, didn’t surrender a run, allowed just two hits and didn’t walk any. Next, he’ll start against the Yankees Wednesday and try to “lock in that feeling that I had the other day.” One of Baz’s three starts last season came in New York, and while it has changed some the Yankees lineup remains challenging. Baz said it is important to keep to his strengths just like Shane McClanahan did against the Yankees on Monday. “It’s just a matter of trusting my stuff and mixing it up and making sure they’re not sitting on anything,” he said.

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Yankees starter Nestor Cortes, pulled in the fifth, allowed three homers in a game for the first time; he gave up only four total in his first 10 starts. ... The Rays need a win Wednesday to avoid losing four straight series for the first time since 2017. ... Though Zunino is sidelined, the Rays on Tuesday gave out a Florida Man bobblehead in his honor.

Staff writer Andrew Crane contributed to this report.

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