ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays announced that Wander Franco has been placed on the restricted list as Major League Baseball investigates social media posts involving the shortstop.
“The Tampa Bay Rays and Wander Franco 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 team said in a statement. “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.”
Franco did not play in Sunday’s 9-2 loss to Cleveland.
“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 on Sunday. “We take the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence.”
However, Tampa Bay did not detail the nature of the social media posts.
The MLB said the speculation follows the alleged post that went viral on Twitter of Franco being involved in a relationship with a minor.
Osleivis Basabe started at shortstop on Sunday in the 22-year-old’s major league debut. Basabe, who went 1 for 3 with a double, learned he was being brought up during his game Saturday night with Triple-A Durham.
Franco started Sunday’s game in the Rays’ dugout, then left it in the fifth inning.
Sunday’s promotion at Tropicana Field was the Wander Franco Snapback Hat for fans 14 and under. Despite his presence at the event, he was not in Sunday’s game lineup.
After the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked whether there was any issue with Franco not playing other than a regular day off. Cash replied: “No.”
“I’m aware of the speculation, and I’m not going to comment any further on that,” Cash said. “The day off was because (it was) a day off.”
Franco was benched for two games in late June by the Rays for how he has responded to frustrating situations and not being the best teammate at times.
Tampa Bay signed the 22-year old to an $182 million, 11-year contract in November 2021, a deal with a team option for 2033 that could be worth $223 million.
The Rays begin a three-game series on Monday against the San Francisco Giants. It is unclear whether Franco will be participating.