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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.

Cards’ Yadier Molina says he tested positive for COVID-19

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19.

The nine-time All-Star revealed his results Tuesday in a Spanish-language Instagram post. Soon afterward, the Cardinals issued a release naming six of the players who have tested positive.

The others are infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo along with pitchers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.

“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” Molina said in a release issued by the team. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that seven players and six staff members had tested positive. At the time, Mozeliak said the people to test positive hadn’t been identified publicly because they had declined to have their names released.

The Cardinals said Tuesday that six players had decided to grant permission to have their names revealed.

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life – with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time,” DeJong said in a statement released by the team.

The outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Cardinals’ scheduled three-game weekend series at Milwaukee as well as a four-game series with Detroit that was supposed to run Monday through Thursday. The Cardinals have played just five games this season and are hoping to return to action Friday hosting the Chicago Cubs.

As of now, the Cardinals who have tested positive have returned home while the rest of the team remains isolated in Milwaukee hotel rooms. Their last game was July 29 at Minnesota.

Mozeliak said Monday that five of the 13 overall members of the Cardinals’ traveling party to test positive were asymptomatic. The other eight had minor symptoms including headaches, coughs, sniffles and low-grade fevers. Mozeliak said none of the eight had required hospitalization.

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