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Franklin makes most of opportunity off bench

Shortstop enters for injured Cabrera and delivers go-ahead blast in Rays' win

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nick Franklin came up big Tuesday night with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the Rays' 6-3 win over the Yankees at Tropicana Field.

"Nick Franklin, that was a huge hit," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think we're all excited for him. It was great for us, it was great for him simply because he's struggled, no secret. For him to come up and play a huge part in the game was nice."

The Rays would like to see more of the same from Franklin, who should be in the mix for the shortstop competition next spring.

Franklin, who came to the Rays from the Mariners in the three-team trade that sent David Price to the Tigers in 2014, had high expectations for '15. However, he began the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique, and once he finally joined the team, the offense wasn't there. Thus, he spent most of the season at Triple-A Durham, where he hit .259 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 49 games after getting optioned.

The Rays recalled Franklin on Sept. 8. He has not started a game since his return, but he got into Tuesday night's contest after starting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had to leave the game prior to the start of the fifth inning with a left knee strain.

Franklin managed to make a difference in the bottom of the sixth when he hit a two-run homer off Nick Rumbelow that gave the Rays a 4-3 lead.

"I was able to take advantage of his mistake," Franklin said.

Rumbelow allowed that he "left a changeup up."

Video: [email protected]: Franklin discusses game-winning home run

Before Franklin started his trip around the bases, he clapped his hands. Franklin stressed to reporters he wasn't trying to show up Rumbelow.

"I think just kind of instincts took over there," Franklin said. "I didn't mean to get overexcited. I just think instincts, down by one and instincts just took over."

Franklin noted that it was "unfortunate" that Cabrera had to come out of the game.

"I just tried to make the most out of it," Franklin said. "... [Coming through] means a lot. The season didn't start off the way I wanted it to, and I think for me to get sent down and get my things back together, I think that was very helpful for me."

Exactly what the Rays decide to do at shortstop while preparing for the 2016 season will be one of the questions that needs to be answered during the coming offseason.

The incumbent, Cabrera, is set to become a free agent. Do the Rays re-sign the veteran? Or do they go with youth, leaving Franklin and Tim Beckham to battle for the position?

"Without a doubt, he has to be [in the mix]," Cash said. "He went down to Triple-A, worked on a lot of things. His defense, his offense, got consistent playing time. It's not going to be the easiest thing to get consistent playing time right now, the end of the year, but we definitely have high hopes for Nick Franklin to be in the mix and to compete and help us win next year."

Cash noted that Franklin is in the same boat as several of the young players with the team late in the season.

"As far as Nick Franklin going in, we've got to see these guys play -- they're here," Cash said. "It was an opportunity that presented itself for him and we wanted to get him in there."

Expect to see more of Franklin in the Rays' remaining 18 games.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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