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Wander Franco is no longer star of Rays’ and Bally’s commercial promos

The shortstop is being investigated in the Dominican Republic after allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors.
 
Rays All-Star shortstop Wander Franco had been prominently featured in promotional commercials throughout this season until Friday night.
Rays All-Star shortstop Wander Franco had been prominently featured in promotional commercials throughout this season until Friday night. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Aug. 19, 2023|Updated Aug. 19, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG — First, he left the dugout. Now, Wander Franco has disappeared from your TV.

Highlights of the Rays shortstop have been prominent on a number of televised ads this season but were noticeably absent from commercials during Friday night’s game against the Angels.

The team’s Rays Up commercial that has been omnipresent on broadcasts much of this season and featured a spectacular barehanded catch by Franco was still being used for Wednesday’s series finale against the Giants but did not air on Friday.

A Bally Sports promo that includes broadcaster Dewayne Staats’ high-energy calls of various plays also included Franco’s barehanded catch, but it appeared to have been edited out of a version of the commercial on Friday night.

Franco and the Rays agreed Monday that the shortstop would go on the restricted list for at least a week after social media posts last weekend suggested he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a minor in the Dominican Republic. The Attorney General’s office in the Dominican has since launched an investigation and acknowledged there have been allegations from at least two minors.

Major League Baseball has begun its own investigation and, according to the website The Messenger, Franco has retained prominent Pittsburgh sports attorney Jay Reisinger, as well as counsel in the Dominican Republic.

The Rays Up commercial includes a list of summertime activities around Tropicana Field. The centerpiece of the 30-second spot is Franco racing down the leftfield line against the Astros in April and snatching the ball out of the air with his bare hand as the narrator talks about “some Wander magic” at the ballpark.

The Bally Sports Sun commercial on Friday night included clips of Randy Arozarena, Jose Siri and Josh Lowe but no longer had Franco’s running catch as Staats exclaimed “Is he for real?”.

Bally and Rays officials declined to comment on Saturday.

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