Wander Franco injury: First-place Rays put star rookie on 10-day injured list with hamstring strain

Wander Franco injury: First-place Rays put star rookie on 10-day injured list with hamstring strain

Wander Franco, star rookie shortstop for the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain, the team announced Saturday. Franco will have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Shortstop Taylor Walls was called up to fill the roster spot.

Franco suffered the injury going first to third on the bases in the first inning of Friday night’s game against the Tigers. He pulled up a bit as he approached third, and was removed from the game. Here’s the play:

“That’s a base hit that I would normally score on,” Franco told reporters, including MLB.com’s Dawn Klemish, adding he had a similar issue with his hamstring in spring training. “… I hope I don’t have to go on the IL, but [Saturday], we’ll see. We’ll get more answers [Saturday]. It’s in God’s hands, and hopefully, it won’t be so bad.”  

Franco singled earlier in the first inning Friday to extend his on-base streak to an incredible 39 games. That is the longest streak by a player age 20 or younger in American League history, and it’s the second longest on-base streak for a player age 20 or younger in baseball history, behind only Hall of Famer Frank Robinson’s 43-game streak with the 1956 Reds.

In 62 big league games this season Franco owns a .285/.347/.463 batting line with seven home runs. He’s hitting .325/.393/.530 with more walks (15) than strikeouts (14) during the 39-game on-base streak, and in his last 23 games and 98 plate appearances, Franco has struck out only three times. He is a transcendent talent having a remarkable debut season.

The Rays are better positioned to absorb losing such a great player than most teams. They’re so deep it’s almost obnoxious, and they have a comfortable nine-game lead in the AL East. Tampa has the AL’s best record at 88-53. As long as Franco’s injury doesn’t linger into the postseason, the Rays will be fine. They can give him as much time to get healthy as necessary.

With Franco sidelined, the Rays figure to use Walls as their most of the time shortstop. The 25-year-old is hitting only .205/.301/.305 in 44 big league games this season, though he is a splendid defender. Joey Wendle is the other leading candidate to see time at short during Franco’s absence.

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Franco the No. 1 prospect in baseball before the season, saying he “has a chance to be a special, special player.”

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