Rays haven’t ruled out Wander Franco for opening day

Notebook | The young shortstop has an MRI that is “favorable,” but a short window to feel healthy before the season starts Thursday.
Wander Franco's MRI on his right quad Sunday was "favorable," according to manager Kevin Cash.
Wander Franco's MRI on his right quad Sunday was "favorable," according to manager Kevin Cash. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published March 26

LAKELAND — The Rays are optimistic that Wander Franco will be able to play on opening day Thursday. An MRI on the young shortstop’s right quad Sunday morning was “favorable,” manager Kevin Cash said.

“He will not play (Monday), obviously. So we’ve got three days to treat him,” Cash said after a loss to the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. “I don’t think anything’s been decided. ... We’re optimistic that if we can get this thing treated the right way, we should be in a spot where he’s good to go.”

The Rays do not have to set their roster until Thursday. Their fallback option, Taylor Walls, is already on the roster. So the next three days will be focused on getting Franco healthy.

“Three days off in a row for him. Maybe get him out there that last day and take (batting practice) and see how he feels, but I’m pretty optimistic,” Cash said.

The Rays and Franco had focused his offseason workouts on becoming more flexible and durable after being sidelined by health issues in the past. He spent most of last June on the injured list with a right quad strain. Tightness in his right hamstring also sidelined him in September 2021.

Game details: Tigers 11, Rays 10

Francisco Mejia looked like he is ready for opening day. The catcher had a home run and a double Sunday. “Mejia looked really good at the plate, very calm at-bats. And I think that’s what (hitting coach Chad Mottola’s) been trying to do with him. Sometimes a pitcher can speed a lot of hitters up and Frankie’s certainly susceptible to that,” Cash said, “but he looked really calm at the plate today and ... even his outs were good swings.” … Randy Arozarena went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Luke Raley continued his hot spring training with two hits, and Walls had a stolen base. ... Garrett Cleavinger had a rough afternoon. He allowed four earned runs on two hits and three walks without recording an out. “That’s Part I of his back-to-back. It goes back-to-back (Monday). If I know (pitching coach Kyle Snyder), he will most likely be back at the stadium rather than in a game,” Cash said. Cleavinger has a 12.00 ERA in seven appearances.


The Rays will not hold back in their final game of spring training, even though it is against their American League East rival Yankees. “We’ll have guys playing, because it’s unique to have two days off going into opening day,” Cash said. … Jeffrey Springs, who would have been on turn to pitch, will not be facing the Yankees, however. He will pitch a simulated game at Tropicana Field. “We’ll leave four or five big-league hitters back there,” Cash said. … Right-handed pitcher Kyle Crick was granted his release.

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