ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco is back in the starting lineup after being benched for two games in response to his handling of frustrating situations this season.

Franco was second in the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Royals.

After being sent home Thursday, the first of the two games he didn’t play, Franco was in uniform and in the dugout for Friday night’s game.

“It’s been hard, really hard, not being with team,” Franco said through an interpreter. “I’m happy to be back. It’s been difficult.”

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has declined to discuss specific incidents. Franco has at times not run out grounders. After an at-bat Wednesday, he shattered his bat on the dugout bench.

“I think they’re doing a good job in the way they’ve controlled the situation,” Franco said. “I’ve been with this organization a long time, and I think they’ve controlled the situation well with the errors that I’ve made.”

Franco entered Saturday hitting .287, with eight homers, 34 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. He is in the second season of a $182 million, 11-year contract.


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