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With Wander Franco back, Rays’ Taylor Walls ready to return to utility role

Notes | The smooth-fielding shortstop will go back to also playing second and third base.
Taylor Walls knows his time at shortstop is limited with Wander Franco back. But he'll still contribute in the infield. "Whatever I can do to help the team win. We have a lot of good momentum going right now.”
Taylor Walls knows his time at shortstop is limited with Wander Franco back. But he'll still contribute in the infield. "Whatever I can do to help the team win. We have a lot of good momentum going right now.” [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sep. 10|Updated Sep. 10

NEW YORK — Taylor Walls played tremendous defense while filling in at shortstop for two months as Wander Franco recovered from a right-hand injury.

Now with Franco back, the Rays will expect Walls to spread his glove love around the infield, getting time at second and third base, along with short, as he did much of the first half of the season.

“It was kind of obvious whenever he got to the point where he returned to the club that I was going to shift more back into that role than just (playing) shortstop,” Walls said Friday.

“I’m ready for it. Whatever I can do to help the team win. We have a lot of good momentum going right now.”

Walls, hitting just .176, said he has been preparing for the change in duties, which may include replacing Yandy Diaz at third in close games.

“It shouldn’t take much,” Walls said. “Getting the reps I did earlier in the season, and throughout spring training, allowed me to get the comfort that I needed to where not having played third base or second base in a long time I don’t think it’s going to be near the adjustment to where it might have been earlier in the year. ...

“We’re glad to have (Franco) back. He’s going to be a huge help to the lineup and wherever the team needs me, however I can contribute to win, that’s kind of what we’ll do.”

Pitching plans

Shane McClanahan appears to be on track to return to the team on Thursday.
Shane McClanahan appears to be on track to return to the team on Thursday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Shane McClanahan came through Friday’s 50(ish)-pitch extended bullpen feeling good and seems set to rejoin the rotation when eligible for Thursday’s finale of the five-games-in-four-days series in Toronto.

“I felt really good; the stuff was there,” McClanahan said Saturday. “I’m treating it like I’m healthy. They’re treating me like I’m healthy for the most part. So it’s just kind of continuing to work hard, and whenever they want to activate me, they’ll activate me.”

Cash said McClanahan, who was scratched from an Aug. 30 start in Miami due to a left shoulder impingement, didn’t need to show anything else and will resume a normal starter’s routine.

A Tuesday doubleheader with the Blue Jays makes for a tough week, and Corey Kluber’s short Saturday outing added to that. The Rays plan for Luis Patino to face the Yankees on Sunday, then possibly Ryan Yarbrough (likely behind an opener) on Monday, Jeffrey Springs and potentially Yonny Chirinos (maybe behind an opener) on Tuesday, followed by Drew Rasmussen and McClanahan.

Miscellany

Catcher Francisco Mejia felt something in his left wrist/forearm during a seventh-inning swing, but stayed in and said afterward he was fine. ... With Jason Adam and Pete Fairbanks getting Friday off, the Rays gave JT Chargois the chance to get the final three outs and what would have been his first career save in 10 opportunities. But he allowed a one-out home run that cut the Rays’ lead to 4-2, then a two-out walk and was pulled. Shawn Armstrong finished for his second save. … Cash on 2017 top draft pick Brendan McKay, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since October 2019 due to injuries and will have Tommy John surgery this week: “You feel for him. It’s tough. … It’s not gone the way Brendan or we were hoping. Hopefully he has some good fortune, some good luck moving forward and gets back on the mound.” … Cash said Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame pregame ceremony Friday was well done, as usual by the Yankees. “I thought it was awesome. Really impressive,” he said. “These fans, they appreciate greatness. He was great for a long time.”

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