Rays starter Shane McClanahan departed today’s outing in the fourth inning after a visit from the trainer. The club later announced he’d been dealing with mid-back tightness.
It’s unclear whether the Rays anticipate McClanahan missing time. Postgame, he conceded he was “frustrated” to have to leave the game early but expressed hope it wouldn’t be a serious issue (video provided by Bally Sports Sun). Manager Kevin Cash told reporters the southpaw had experienced some minor back discomfort before his previous start as well (relayed by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
McClanahan is the only Tampa Bay starter to have taken all 16 turns through the rotation. Last season’s sixth-place Cy Young finisher has continued to excel. He owns a 2.23 ERA across 93 innings. His 26.7% strikeout rate is down a bit relative to last year’s 30.3% clip, but it’s still well above league average. The Rays are already without Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen and Josh Fleming and had to navigate the first couple months sans Tyler Glasnow. McClanahan, Glasnow, rookie Taj Bradley and offseason pickup Zach Eflin make for an excellent top four, but the Springs and Rasmussen injuries have put some pressure on the depth arms.
Corner outfielder Luke Raley also finished today’s game with some health concern. He was hit on the right hand by a José Cuas pitch in the first inning. While Raley played the remainder of the contest, Topkin tweets that his hand remained sore postgame. Initial x-rays came back negative but he’ll head for further imaging tonight. Raley has somewhat quietly been one of the game’s best hitters this year, mashing at a .276/.354/.582 clip over 193 plate appearances.
Whether he’ll require a stint on the injured list is to be determined. There’d seem a decent chance he’ll at least be out of tomorrow night’s lineup. If that’s the case, he’d be joined in sitting out the contest by Wander Franco. Tampa Bay penciled in Taylor Walls at shortstop tonight, and Cash announced pregame that Franco would be on the bench for Friday’s contest as well.
It’s not an injury concern in his case. It’s instead a disciplinary decision. Cash told reporters the organization was benching Franco for at least two games after taking issue with some of his clubhouse behavior. As Topkin writes, it isn’t believed to be related to one specific incident but rather a culmination of a few events throughout the season. Topkin notes that Franco has been involved in some verbal spats with teammates over the course of the year and has had some instances of slamming equipment in the dugout after making outs.
To be clear, there’s nothing to suggest the Rays’ overall relationship with Franco has been affected. Cash was quick to call the 22-year-old star “a really good kid, really good person” while conceding that the infielder “is learning and dealing with the challenges of being a major league player and some of the frustrations that come with it.” Both Cash and president of baseball operations Erik Neander expressed support for Franco overall but indicated they felt it appropriate to sit him down for a few days to reinforce the need to be a good teammate.
Franco is arguably the face of the franchise and already one of the sport’s brightest young stars. He’s off to a .287/.349/.455 start to the season and has elite defensive marks. Recipient of the largest extension in franchise history, he’s under contract through the 2032 campaign and remains as important to the organization as any player on the roster.