ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball is looking into social media posts concerning All-Star shortstop Wander Franco, the Rays confirmed Sunday night.
The posts, which went viral Sunday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, allege that Franco, 22, has been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
“During today’s game, we were made aware of the social media posts that are circulating regarding Wander Franco,” the team said in a statement two hours after Sunday’s 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians. “We take the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence.”
Franco was not in the lineup Sunday despite a Wander Franco Snapback Hat giveaway for kids 14 and under. The Rays called up top prospect Osleivis Basabe, one of their top prospects, from Triple-A Durham to start in his place.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said before the game the decision to sit Franco was to “get him off his feet.” Asked after the game if anything more went into the decision, Cash said, “no, just a day off.”
When a follow-up question referenced “speculation” on social media, Cash acknowledged he was aware of it.
“I am aware of this speculation,” he said. “I’m not going to comment any further on that. But the day off was because (of) the day off.”
Rays general manager Peter Bendix, seen walking through the Rays clubhouse and into Cash’s office after the game, declined to comment through a team spokesman.
The posts went viral almost as soon as Sunday’s game got underway. By the final out, Franco’s name was the top sports trending topic on the platform.
Franco arrived at Tropicana Field about three hours before the game with at least one other player. He was seen in the dugout in the early innings but left around the fifth and did not return. He was not in the clubhouse after the game.
A clubhouse attendant packed Franco’s baseball gear into a team travel bag at his locker. The Rays headed to the airport immediately after the game to fly to San Francisco, where they will open a three-game series against the Giants on Monday.
On Monday afternoon, the Rays announced that the team and Franco “mutually agreed that he will go on the restricted list and take leave from the club for the duration of the current road trip.”
Arguably the best shortstop in the American League this season, Franco had been on an offensive tear the past few weeks. He has hit safely in his past seven games, including the winning home run in a walkoff victory over the Guardians Friday night at Tropicana Field.
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Franco was carrying a heavy workload. With backup shortstop Taylor Walls on the injured list, Franco had played in 40 straight games before sitting out Sunday.
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