Tampa Bay Rays Young Star Sidelined Once Again

2022 was a frustrating season for the Tampa Bay Rays' $182M Man. Shortstop phenom Wander Franco spent about half the season on the injured list, and when he did play, he didn't make too much of an impact at the plate. 

Now, his status is uncertain once again, even before the season begins. 

Franco was pulled from the Rays' lineup on Saturday after complaining of quad soreness. Quad issues (soreness and strain) are what basically derailed his sophomore season in '22, making this a worrying development. 

"Not overly concerned right now, but certainly not ideal to have (it happen to) a guy at this point of spring training," said manager Kevin Cash. "But glad that Wander said something and we'll check on him (Sunday)."

Franco said at the beginning of camp this spring that he did extensive offseason training on his quads, and had a specific pregame warmup routine for them, in the hopes of avoiding any recurrence this year. It apparently wasn't enough. Hopefully, however, this latest episode isn't that serious. 

The 22-year-old played for the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic, and played four games in the last six days for the Rays. In eight total Grapefruit League games, he's batting .263 with a .391 on-base, and a .918 OPS. 

Last season, he batted .277 with a .746 OPS, with six homers and eight stolen bases in 83 games. In just 70 games in his rookie season in 2021, he flashed an .810 OPS and finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year balloting despite playing less than half a season. 

He signed an 11-year, $182M deal before the 2022 season. 

Photo: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports