Tampa Bay Rays activate star shortstop Wander Franco after two months on injured list

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The Tampa Bay Rays activated star shortstop Wander Franco from the injured list on Friday as they begin their biggest series of the season against the New York Yankees.

Franco, 21, last played July 9 and went on the injured list the next day with a right hamate bone injury that required surgery.

He was batting second in Friday night’s series opener at New York with Tampa Bay trying to cut into a four-and-a-half game deficit in the American League East.

"We're excited to get him back here. He's such a big part of our club,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''He makes us better in the lineup. He makes us better defensively, and we'll just see how it goes.''

Franco has battled two separate injuries this season, also missing nearly all of June with a strained right quadriceps. He is batting .260 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 58 games this season.

"I'd be shocked if he doesn't feel it. He's going to feel it,'' Cash said. ''I don't think that'll go away until maybe next spring training rolls around. It's a surgery that removed a bone so it makes sense that he's feeling it. Now it's just how he can manage it and how we can help him manage it.''

Franco is amongst the game’s brightest young stars and agreed to an $182million, 11-year contract in November after he finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting.