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Rays’ Wander Franco leaves game early but said to be ‘fine’

Notes | Shortstop who has been on a hot streak at the plate jams his left hand on a swing.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco throws to first baseman Harold Ramirez as the Blue Jays' Matt Chapman grounds out in the second inning Sunday.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco throws to first baseman Harold Ramirez as the Blue Jays' Matt Chapman grounds out in the second inning Sunday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sep. 25|Updated Sep. 25

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Kevin Cash said Wander Franco’s early departure from Sunday’s game is nothing to be concerned about.

Franco, per Cash, jammed his left hand — not the one that he had July surgery on — during a fifth-inning at-bat, but was only pinch-hit for in the eighth because the Jays had a 7-1 lead.

“He just got jammed a little bit,” Cash said. “He’s fine. He would have hit had the game been a little closer.”

Franco was seen in the dugout in some discomfort, flexing and shaking his hand, and consulting with assistant athletic trainer Mike Sandoval. He singled in the third inning to extend his career-high hitting streak to 12 games, with a .341 average in that run.

Kiermaier appreciated tribute

Free-agent-to-be centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said he didn’t consider Saturday’s video tribute and on-field acknowledgment goodbye as much as a chance for mutual appreciation. “(There’s) a lot of unknowns, but I truly looked at it as just a moment of appreciation,” he said. “Whatever happens from this point on, I had the moment that I wanted. … I don’t know if I’ll be putting on this uniform and taking that field again, or if I’ll be coming into this building on the other side, which is such a weird thought.” Kiermaier, who is recovering from hip surgery, said he plans to talk with whatever teams show interest once he is recovered, which hopefully includes the Rays (who will pay him a $2.5 million buyout on a $13 million option).

Crowd control

With an announced crowd of 16,394, the Rays drew 1,128,227 for the season, their fewest, not counting COVID-19 impacted 2020 and 2021, since 2003, and third lowest in their 25-season history at Tropicana Field. With an average of 13,927, they ranked third lowest in the majors, ahead of Miami and Oakland.

The Lowe down

Second baseman Brandon Lowe took some of the blame for the recurrence of the lower back issue that led to a premature end to an already frustrating season.

Lowe said Sunday that when he returned in July from a two-month injured list stint after the first back issue, he had altered his swing, then decided to change it back. “I wasn’t swinging quite as hard or as violent as I normally do and realized that the output wasn’t there that has normally been there,” he said. “So I decided to kind of go back and maybe I just didn’t let it heal all the way and was playing against the clock.”

That lesson, Lowe said, has been learned, that doing all the treatment and following the medical advice wasn’t enough.

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“Ultimately, I think it came down to what I was doing and not listening to my body the way that I probably should have,” he said. “I might have been blinded by trying to come back and my hatred for the IL. So as much as it sucks to be on the IL now, I understand that I need to do it the right way and get fully healthy this time around.”

Miscellany

Rays rehab coordinator Paul Harker and bullpen coach Stan Boroski pose for a picture before throwing the ceremonial first pitches.
Rays rehab coordinator Paul Harker and bullpen coach Stan Boroski pose for a picture before throwing the ceremonial first pitches. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Bullpen coach Stan Boroski, who joined the staff in 2010 and is their longest tenured coach, and major-league medical coordinator Paul Harker, a 1997 original Devil Rays hire, threw first pitches to mark their end-of-season retirements. … Harold Ramirez had three hits and is on a 9-for-20 tear. … Reliever Dusten Knight, designated for assignment Friday, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment back to Triple-A Durham.

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