ST. PETERSBURG — Rays shortstop Wander Franco is expected to remain sidelined through either an extension of his stay on the restricted list or a shift to administrative leave.
An update is expected Monday on Franco’s status.
Franco was placed on the restricted list Aug. 14 after social media posts surfaced the previous day saying he had an inappropriate relationship with a minor, leading to formal investigations by Major League Baseball and authorities in his native Dominican Republic.
In announcing the restricted list move, the Rays said it was a “mutually agreed” upon decision between the team and player “through the duration of the current road trip.”
That trip ended after Saturday’s doubleheader in Anaheim, Calif. — moved up a day due to the pending arrival of what is now Tropical Storm Hilary — with the team landing at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport around 7 Sunday morning. The Rays’ next game is Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
With indications that both investigations remain ongoing and no final decisions are imminent, Franco, 22, is expected to stay idled, away from the team and out of the public eye. He reportedly hired a noted lawyer, Pittsburgh-based Jay Reisinger, who has represented several players who recently faced domestic violence-related allegations.
Franco’s placement on the restricted list was administered by the team, which agreed to keep paying him his $2 million salary, part of the 11-year, $182 million deal he signed in November 2021.
A switch to the more formal administrative leave would be under league control as part of the MLB/players union’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Under that policy, MLB can place a player it is investigating on administrative leave for up to a week at a time, then extend it with union approval. The leave is not considered disciplinary and provides the player pay and service time.
As part of the process, a player can challenge placement on administrative leave by going before an arbitration panel, so MLB presumably would be confident it had sufficient cause.
The Rays, in response to MLB opening an investigation, said “we support any steps taken by the league to better understand the situation. Out of respect for all parties involved, we have no further comments at this time.”
Home run derby
Infielder Isaac Paredes and outfielder Jose Siri are having a good back-and-forth battle for the team home run lead, currently shared at 24.
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Saturday’s second game was the third this season in which they both homered. But there also have been eight times when they have homered within a day of each other.
Saturday, Paredes retook the lead by hitting a three-run homer with no outs in the sixth. Siri said something to him when he got back to the dugout, then when Siri batted later in the inning, quickly got even with a two-run shot.
“Siri made a comment to Isaac and then, what, was it like 30 seconds later, he tied it back up?” manager Kevin Cash said. “So that’s fine. I’d be really happy when Randy (Arozarena) gets involved in it, too.” Arozarena on Saturday hit his 19th homer, but just his third since the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.
Catcher Francisco Mejia (left knee sprain) went 3-for-5 and caught nine innings Sunday in his sixth and presumably final rehab game for Triple-A Durham. ... The Rays are slated to start Zack Littell in Tuesday’s series opener against the Rockies and Aaron Civale on Wednesday, but hadn’t made a final decision on Thursday; starting Zach Eflin on regular rest seems a likely option.
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