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Rays’ Wander Franco heads to injured list, potentially out 6-8 weeks

The shortstop likely has a fractured hamate in his right hand; Kevin Kiermaier is also going on the list with a recurrence of a left hip issue.
The Rays' Wander Franco races to first base against the Yankees during a May 29 game.
The Rays' Wander Franco races to first base against the Yankees during a May 29 game. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jul. 9|Updated Jul. 10

CINCINNATI — Rays shortstop Wander Franco is heading to the injured list and could be sidelined 6-8 weeks if he needs surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his right hand.

Franco was injured taking a “simple swing” during his first at-bat Saturday against the Reds and left the game after the inning ended.

Manager Kevin Cash said following the 5-4 walkoff loss that “I think it’s likely that we’re talking about a hamate” (injury). He said the plans are for Franco to see team hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan on Monday in St. Petersburg for further evaluation and a formal diagnosis.

‘‘We’ll let Dr. Carlan see him and then go from there,’' Cash said

Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier is also heading to the injured list with a recurrence of the left hip issue that sidelined him last month.

Infielder Jonathan Aranda and outfielder Luke Raley are expected to be called up from Triple-A Durham to replace Franco and Kiermaier on the active roster. Taylor Walls will take over as the primary shortstop, and Josh Lowe and Brett Phillips likely will split time in centerfield, as Manuel Margot is also on the injured list.

Franco, one of the game’s most dynamic young players, just returned to active duty on June 26, having spent close to a month on the injured list due to a right quad strain and other leg issues.

The prospect of another extended absence is certainly frustrating.

“That’s the kind of the decision that you’re going to have to kind of wait on,’' Franco, wearing a brace on his right hand, said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “You’re just going to have to accept it. It’s in God’s hands now.’'

Franco fouled off a 100.2 mph fastball from Hunter Greene to get to a 1-2 count, then noticeably grimaced, bent over in the batter’s box and shook his right hand. He called time and stepped out to take one gentle practice swing, then took a called third strike and headed to the dugout.

He said there was no indication anything was wrong before the at-bat. “Nothing prior’' he said. “Just on that simple swing.’'

Franco, who signed an 11-year contract for a guaranteed $182 million before the season, is hitting .260 with a .704 OPS in 58 games. He’s 11-for-49 (.224) with nine singles in 13 games since returning and had a 10-game hitting streak, which ended Saturday.

Kiermaier left the June 20 game against the Yankees with left hip inflammation but felt better after receiving a cortisone shot. He spent just the minimum 10 days on the injured list, returning to play July 1.

But he said the hip started bothering him again recently, with similar symptoms, and he didn’t yet know how long he would be out or what the treatment options were.

“It’s just some of those things creeping back in that area,’' Kiermaier said. “See what happens. Have conversations and see where we go.’'

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It was enough of an issue Saturday that he told Cash his baserunning could be inhibited, so when Kiermaier singled to lead off the ninth, he was replaced by Phillips as a pinch-runner.

“My hip just didn’t feel great, and Cash decided to take me out,” Kiermaier said. “I wasn’t moving around as good as I’d like to.’'

Both Aranda and Raley had short stints with the Rays earlier this season. The team is also calling up reliever Phoenix Sanders to replace Calvin Faucher, and possibly Josh Fleming as well.

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