Tampa Bay Rays shortstop sits out amid investigation
By Victor Mather
The Tampa Bay Rays said that Major League Baseball was investigating “social media posts” about Wander Franco, the All-Star shortstop. Franco sat out of his team’s game Sunday, and he will miss upcoming games against the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels, the team said.
Franco was in the dugout for the first part of Sunday afternoon’s home game against the Cleveland Guardians, then left. The Rays lost 9-2. Sunday’s game was Wander Franco snapback hat night in Tampa.
“During today’s game, we were made aware of the social media posts that are circulating regarding Wander Franco,” the Rays said in a statement Sunday. “We take the situation seriously, and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence.”
Manager Kevin Cash said after the game that it was “just a day off.”
“I’m aware of the speculation,” he continued. “I’m not going to comment any further on that. But the day off was because — a day off.”
The Rays announced Monday that the team and player “have mutually agreed that he will go on the restricted list and take leave from the club for the duration of the current road trip.” The Rays next play at home Aug. 22.
“We support any steps taken by the league to better understand the situation,” the team added later. It said there would be no further comment.
MLB.com, The Athletic and the Tampa Bay Times were among those that reported that the investigation was related to social media posts that accused Franco of an inappropriate sexual relationship.
In a video posted to social media, Franco was dismissive. “They are saying that I am running around with a minor girl,” he said, adding: “People have nothing better to do with their time.”
Franco, 22, is in his third season with the Rays and was an All-Star for the first time this season. He is hitting .281 with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases.