July 10: The Rays have officially announced that Franco and Kiermaier have been placed on the 10-day IL, despite being left-handed Jeffrey Springs was placed on 15 day IL due to tightness in lower right leg. right handed Calvin Faucher was also optioned on Triple-A Durham. To reclaim those four spots on the roster, they indeed recalled Raley and Aranda, as well as left-handed Josh Fleming and just Phoenix sanders.
July 9th: The Rays lost two regulars on the 10-day injured list, as Take a walk Franco and Kevin Kiermaier were both dismissed. As previously reported, Franco left today’s match with a right hand and wrist injury, and the manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that the initial diagnosis was that the injury was related to Franco’s hamate bone. Franco will visit doctors on Monday to determine the extent of the problem, and if surgery is needed, he could miss around 6-8 weeks.
Franco had to be called out after his first-ever at bat, a first-inning strikeout against Hunter Greene. On the penultimate pitch of the plate appearance, Franco appeared shaken after fouling a fastball by Greene, and he was substituted on the ground for the bottom of the inning.
Kiermaier played most of Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Reds, as the center fielder was replaced with a pinch runner after picking a single in the ninth inning. During the match, however, Kiermaier felt more discomfort in his left hip – that same issue forced Kiermaier into IL in late June, despite only missing the 10-day minimum before being activated .
Given the recurring nature of the hip issue, it seems likely that Kiermaier will miss more than 10 days, although the next All-Star break could cover four days of that stint in IL. Unless the Rays want to watch Kiermaier to make sure the hip pain is entirely behind him, Kiermaier could be activated as early as July 22, when the Rays kick off their second half with a series at Kansas City.
Even if Franco can avoid surgery, he will still need at least a few weeks of recovery time. The sophomore star has hit .260/.308/.396 over 247 board appearances this season – still above average production (1o4 wRC+), but understandably a disappointment given the high expectations created by being the best Franco’s hope and his excellent 2021 rookie season. Franco got off to a good start before quad injuries hampered his game in May, and that quad issue ultimately sent him to IL for four weeks.
Topkin writes that the outfielder Luc Raley and infielder Jonathan Aranda are likely to be called up to replace Franco and Kiermaier on the active roster. Aranda made his MLB debut in a cup of coffee style earlier this season, appearing in two games. He will probably enter Taylor Walls‘ utility role on the field, as Walls will likely return to daily shortstop duty (as he did during Franco’s last stint in IL).
Raley is also a left-handed outfielder, so in that sense, he’s an easy replacement for Kiermaier in Tampa Bay’s outfield mix. However, there’s obviously no way to easily replace Kiermaier’s world defense, although the backup Brett Phillips is a solid defender in his own right (even though right field is Phillips’ best outfield position from a glove work standpoint). Phillips and Josh Lowe are the most likely candidates to manage center field while Kiermaier is out, and Vidal Brujan also figure smart in the middle. Manuel Margot is out until at least the end of August due to a patellar tendon strain, and while the Rays are optimistic Margot will play again in 2022, anything he can contribute in the future could be seen as a bonuses.
While neither Franco nor Kiermaier have excelled at the plate this season, their two absences will likely only intensify the Rays’ already obvious need for more striking help at the deadline. Especially if Franco is sidelined through September, Tampa will need more consistent production from the team if the team is going to both make the playoffs and then be legitimate contenders. in October. As usual, the Rays are unlikely to break the bank on a new acquisition, but the depth of the positional player (whether an everyday name or a multi-position part-time) certainly seems to be a priority.