Wander Franco

Wander’s Quad; Fleming Fills Out Rotation

Wander Franco
Wander Franco (Source:: Tampa Bay Rays)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The timing of any injury is never good, but to have Wander Franco’s quad act up less than one week before the curtain rises on the 2023 season is the last thing anybody associated with the Rays wanted to hear. After all, it was the shortstop’s quad that was among multiple injuries that resulted in his missing nearly half of last season.

Manager Kevin Cash was “not overly concerned” about soreness Franco experienced Saturday before being held out of a Grapefruit League game against the visiting Red Sox.

It will be a day-to-day approach with the hope, of course, that it is nothing more than an little soreness.

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The 22-year-old Franco, who played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, has appeared in nine spring training games with the Rays – four since returning from the WBC – and is 6-for-20 (.300) with two homers and a pair of doubles.

Fleming fills out rotation: The competition for the fifth spot in the Rays rotation was between Luis Patino, Yonny Chirinos and Josh Fleming. It was the latter who Cash said Sunday morning would be the fifth starter.

“Really tough decision,” the manager told MLB.com. “Fleming, I think, is very deserving of it. Yonny, on the flip side, you could make the case that he’s also deserving. He put together a tremendous spring.”

Chirinos, who was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Sunday a day after throwing five strong innings against the Red Sox at Tropicana Field, returned to the mound last September following a two-plus year absence that was the result of Tommy John surgery and ensuing setbacks.

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Patino struggled (11.17 ERA) throughout the spring and was optioned to Durham on Saturday.

After being roughed up in his first outing this spring, Fleming put together a few strong appearances to nail down the job. The lefty debuted with the Rays in 2020 and has a career mark of 17-13 with a 4.93 ERA. Nineteen of his 43 appearances are as a starter.

The other starters are Shane McClanahan, who will lead things off opening day Thursday against the Tigers at the Trop, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs and Zach Eflin.

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