ST. PETERSBURG — Wander Franco will restart his rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham on Sunday and is on a tentative schedule to rejoin the Rays by Sept. 12 in Toronto.
Manager Kevin Cash said Franco is scheduled to play with the Bulls through Sept. 10, but the schedule could be adjusted — either way — depending on how he feels.
Franco took batting practice on the field Saturday for a second straight day. He said afterward that he had made recent improvement since breaking the hamate bone in his right hand on a swing July 9 and having surgery three days later.
“This is definitely the best I’ve felt since the injury,” he said, via team interpreter Manny Navarro.
Franco’s status has been hard to pin down at times during the rehab process. At what Cash said was his urging, Franco tried to make an earlier return, joining Durham on Aug. 15, but he made just two plate appearances before leaving the game with discomfort in the hand.
Cash said Franco’s Saturday assessment, after hitting off a pitching machine, was good to hear.
“That’s probably the most important thing, if he feels good where he’s at, where we’re at,” Cash said. “He’s kind of driving how he feels day to day. And I’m glad that he expressed that.”
The Bulls play at Charlotte (White Sox) on Sunday, then go home for the week, hosting Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) on Monday, and Wednesday-Sunday. After a series with the Red Sox, the Rays are off Thursday, then visit the Yankees through Sept. 11 and the Blue Jays (Sept. 12-15).
Franco said the timetable for his return was “all in Gods hands,” and he didn’t know how many games he would need with Durham. “What I do know,” he said, “is that I’m going to get back and help this team as soon as possible.”
A tangled mess
The Rays did a lot right to win 2-1 Saturday, and some wrong along the way. In the seventh inning, they had Francisco Mejia on second and speedy Jose Siri on first when Taylor Walls drove a ball to the rightfield wall. Between Siri going too far in trying to get to third, and Mejia getting hung up between third and home, they got one out and no runs.
“I think the best way to put it is a pretty unique play,” Cash said. “You’ve got a super fast guy on first and an average runner at second. We just got a little tangled up. I don’t think it’s a point to blame (or point) fingers at anybody. It was just unfortunate we didn’t come out of that with a run.”
Shawn Armstrong will be the opener Sunday, with lefty Ryan Yarbrough expected to work the bulk of the innings. Sunday’s game, by the way, is sold out. ... Yandy Diaz has reached base in 11 of his last 16 plate appearances, and over his last 17 games is hitting .385 with 15 RBIs and a 1.090 OPS. ... Diaz was voted as having the best strike-zone judgement among AL hitters in Baseball America’s annual Best Tools survey of managers, scouts and executives. Shane McClanahan was voted second-best pitcher and curveball and third-best control; Corey Kluber second-best control; Kevin Kiermaier third-best defensive outfielder; Cash second-best manager. … Ji-Man Choi, 5-for-his-last-50, did not play. ... Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John elbow surgery) is set to start his rehab assignment Wednesday with Durham. He will work one inning on a full buildup program designed to get him ready for 2023, with no plans to accelerate for a 2022 return. That possibility will be decided by how he feels after several outings. …The Rays on Saturday hosted members of the Bombers Baseball Instructional Academy from the Mid-Florida Youth Baseball League. Former Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez, who died by suicide in January, volunteered with the youth team in Kissimmee, and the league named one of its divisions in his honor.
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