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Authorities in the Dominican Republic are currently investigating Wander Franco, the All-Star shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays, over alleged involvement with a minor. This inquiry follows a statement by the country's attorney general on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays have placed the 22-year-old player on the restricted list. This action will keep Franco sidelined for at least six games, allowing Major League Baseball (MLB) to further examine social media posts connected to him.
These investigations stem from reported social media content suggesting Franco's relationship with a minor. However, the credibility of these posts, as reported by The Associated Press, remains unverified. Inquiries into the alleged relationship prompted a statement from the attorney general's media office in the Dominican Republic, acknowledging ongoing investigations.
It is unclear if Franco has secured legal representation.
The Rays have not disclosed specifics about the social media posts but stated that both the team and Franco have "mutually agreed" to place him on the restricted list. Franco will continue to receive compensation during this period.
MLB has initiated an investigation, confirmed by a source familiar with the matter. This information was provided to The Associated Press anonymously, as no official announcement has been made.
Notably, Franco did not participate in the recent home series finale against Cleveland at Tropicana Field. Additionally, he was absent when the Rays began a six-game road trip against the Giants in San Francisco on Monday night.
In a brief announcement, the Tampa Bay Rays and Wander Franco have reached a mutual agreement. Franco will be placed on the Restricted List and will take a leave from the club throughout the entirety of the ongoing road trip.
This road trip encompasses a series of three games against the Giants and another trio of matches against the Los Angeles Angels, with its conclusion slated for the upcoming Sunday. Following this, the Rays will make their way back home to square off against Colorado on August 22nd.
The club expressed support for MLB's efforts to gain clarity on the situation in a statement on Monday. They affirmed their commitment to respecting the parties involved and stated that they would refrain from further comments at this time.
Rays' President of Baseball Operations, Erik Neander, later addressed the media, focusing on baseball-related decisions. Neander emphasized that their stance on Wander Franco would remain unchanged.
Franco's performance in the current season showcases a batting average of .281, along with 17 home runs and 58 RBIs. Notably, he had played in 40 consecutive games before taking a day off, during which he maintained a .411 batting average with six home runs and 11 RBIs over his last 11 games.
During Sunday's game, 22-year-old Osleivis Basabe, a top prospect for Tampa Bay, made his major league debut as a starting shortstop. Basabe remained in the lineup for the series opener in San Francisco on Monday.
While Franco was on a seven-game hitting streak with impressive stats, including a .517 batting average, three home runs, and seven RBIs, he spent a portion of Sunday's game on the bench within the Rays' dugout. He left during the fifth inning and was notably absent from the clubhouse after the Rays' 9-2 loss to the Guardians.
A day later, Manager Kevin Cash refrained from delving into specifics but expressed confidence in his team's ability to maintain focus on baseball.
Cash stated, "We've got a strong ensemble here, striking a great balance between the youthful players infusing their energy and the seasoned veterans who've admirably navigated the challenges of a five-month season. I hold a high level of confidence in this dynamic. Our performance on the baseball field has been commendable, and I'm eager to see our momentum persist."
Following Sunday's game, Cash responded to queries about Franco's absence beyond a regular day off, simply stating, "No."
In response to speculations, Cash noted, "I’m aware of the speculation, and I’m not going to comment any further on that. The day off was because (it was) a day off."
Earlier in late June, Franco was benched for two games due to his response to frustrating situations, and Manager Cash indicated that Franco wasn't always the best teammate during that period.
Having signed a budget-conscious contract in November 2021, Franco's deal with the Rays spans 11 years and is valued at $182 million. The contract includes a team option for 2033, with potential value reaching $223 million.
Summarised from the article: apnews.com
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