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Rays designate Nick Franklin for assignment

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Rays’ utility infielder/outfielder Nick Franklin has been designated for assignment, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The hard-hitting Franklin was expected to make the roster after a monster performance in spring training, but Topkin notes that Rays’ manager Kevin Cash preferred the more defensively-inclined Daniel Robertson as infield depth.

Franklin, 26, finished a third season in Tampa Bay with career-high numbers in 2016, slashing .270/.328/.443 with six stolen bases and a .771 OPS in 191 PA. He split his time among first base, second base, shortstop and the outfield corners, but his limited range made him marginally useful to the team when he wasn’t at the plate.

Spring training seemed to confirm his role as a bat-first option off the bench. Franklin slashed an impressive .362/.434/.532 in 22 Grapefruit League appearances while competing against outfield options Mallex Smith and Peter Bourjos and infielder Daniel Robertson for a backup spot on the roster. Although his defensive skills have never been described as anything above average, Franklin’s versatility in the infield and outfield and his resurgence at the plate last year should make him an appealing option for teams looking to shore up their offense in 2017.

Mark Melancon is considering surgery

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Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.

Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.

Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.