Home News Rays’ Wander Franco homers after two-game benching

Rays’ Wander Franco homers after two-game benching

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Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco was back like he never left.

The young infielder returned to the starting lineup Saturday after being benched for two games and promptly homered in the team’s 9-4 loss to the Royals.

According to manager Kevin Cash, Franco was benched on Thursday for not “being the best teammate,” and mishandling his frustrations throughout the season.

“Over the course of this season, there’s been probably multiple times that the way he has handled his frustrations have not been the way that we ask our players to uphold being the best teammate,” Cash told reporters.

After being sent home on Thursday, the shortstop was in uniform in the dugout for Friday night’s game but did not see the field.

“Wander is a really good kid, really good person,” Cash said. “He’s a young player that is learning and dealing with the challenges of being a major league player and some of the frustrations that come with it.”

But the 22-year-old was back in action Saturday, hitting second in the order against the Kansas City Royals.

Facing starter Jordan Lyes in the bottom of the first, Franco took a 2-1 offering and crushed it 417 feet to center for his ninth homer of the season.

He didn’t stop there, putting the Rays ahead 3-0 in the second inning with a 103.8 mph single to score Yandy Diaz.

Wander Franco circles the bases after hitting a solo home run off Jordan Lyles on Saturday.

The former No. 1 overall prospect in baseball finished the afternoon going 2-for-4 and is now hitting .290 with an .817 OPS.

The numbers on the field have been solid, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the benching earlier this week.

While Cash has not gone into specific detail of the events that led up to the decision, Franco has, at times, thrown his bat after outs, failed to run out routine ground balls and argued with teammates and umpires. 

After an at-bat Wednesday, Franco shattered his bat on the dugout bench.

Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after hitting a solo home run.
Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after hitting a solo home run.
Getty Images

“It’s not a flip a switch,” Cash said earlier in the week after the benching. “We’re going to support him. Wander’s going to put good work in, confident in that. And this will take shape over the course probably of our season.”

According to ESPN, Franco had reached out to a number of people, including teammate Zach Eflin about what’s all gone down recently.

“Kind of explained that everybody’s on his side,” Eflin said. “Everybody cares about him, everybody loves him. I’m not going to give up on him, nobody’s going to give up on him.”

And while the Rays lost on Saturday, the team sits in first place in the American League East with a 53-27 record.

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