Wander Franco promotes participation in the Dominican Winter League

Tampa Bay Rays infielder Wander Franco, who has been sidelined for having an inappropriate relationship with a minor, is seeking a return to the field.

The ‘Tampa Bay Times’ reported on the 9th 캡틴토토(Korean time) that Franco is discussing participation in the season with a Dominican Republic Winter League club.

This media reported this, quoting a statement from an official of Leones del Escogido, a club participating in the Dominican Winter League.

Franco has not played since the home game against the Cleveland Guardians on August 13. He is currently placed on official administrative leave by the Major League Baseball office pending an investigation into inappropriate relationships with minors.

In addition to the investigation by the Major League Baseball Secretariat, an investigation by Dominican Republic judicial authorities is also underway.

Meanwhile, a return to the field is being pursued. The Tampa Bay Times reported that Franco’s participation in the winter league is possible according to regulations.

“He can join us,” Angel Santana, Escogido’s special assistant for club operations, said in a recent interview with local media. He cannot stop Dominican citizens from working. We talked, but we are still in the United States. We’re trying to get him to run. His participation depends on himself and the processes involved. “It’s a problem we can’t deal with,” he said, indicating that he was positively considering Franco’s joining.

Although the Major League Baseball office cannot intervene in the Dominican Winter League, it is unclear whether players under investigation by local prosecutors will be able to play the season normally.

Regarding this, Santana said, “I hope that Franco will successfully complete the judicial process. He wishes him luck. “If he resolves the problem as quickly as possible, he can play the games here that he couldn’t play in the major leagues,” he said.

Although the situation is different, there have been instances in the past where players who were unable to play the major league season due to non-baseball issues played in the Dominican Republic.

Kang Jung-ho played for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League in 2017, when he was unable to enter the United States due to a drunk driving accident and was unable to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Franco is a top prospect in the major leagues and debuted in the big leagues in 2021.

He recorded a batting average of 0.282, an on-base percentage of 0.340, and a slugging percentage of 0.454 in 265 games over three years, and was selected as an All-Star in 2023.

The 2023 season was the second year of an 11-year, $182 million contract.

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