“I think it will be a great experience,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I think they’ll really appreciate it. Just watching Boston play at home, there are some packed crowds, which they always do. Those are special moments at any part of your career. But to do it at 20 and 21 -- and how impactful, meaningful these games are, and how big those two guys are contributing to our team right now -- it should be a pretty special three days for them.”
However, there will be little time for sentiment because the series against the Red Sox will be pivotal. Tampa Bay led Boston by three games in the American League East heading into Sunday's action.
“It’s a special place,” Franco said about Fenway Park. “I hear there are a lot of fans there. It’s a great city. It’s a place that makes you want to play hard and play well.”
Franco was the top prospect in the Major Leagues until he lost his prospect status last week after crossing 130 at-bats. He’s slashing .277/.333/.468 with one homer and seven RBIs over the past 12 games (51 plate appearances).
“I can still play like 80 percent better,” Franco said.
The Rays acquired Patiño on Dec. 29 from the Padres in the Blake Snell trade. He has been a solid addition to the rotation, going 2-3 with a 4.42 ERA over nine games (seven starts).
“Obviously, it’s a historic park, and there have been a lot of great players that have gone through there,” Patiño said. “A lot of guys have said it’s a lot of fun to play in that environment. It’s a special place. It’s Fenway Park.”
Kiermaier was injured in the second inning Saturday night after hitting into a fielder’s choice that scored the Rays’ second run in their 12-3 victory over Baltimore. Brett Phillips replaced Kiermaier and went 1-for-3 with an RBI on Saturday before homering twice on Sunday.
Kiermaier has spent time on the injured list twice this season. On April 6, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left quadriceps strain. He then went on the IL on May 9 with a sprained left wrist.
Cash remembers Bowden
Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden died Sunday at the age of 91, the school announced.
Bowdon amassed 357 wins over his 44-year career, and he won two national championships in 34 seasons with the Seminoles. He retired at the end of the 2009 season after FSU beat West Virginia in the Gator Bowl, earning the program’s 28th straight postseason appearance and 33rd consecutive winning season.
Cash played baseball at FSU under coach Mike Martin from 1997-99 and had the opportunity to meet Bowden.
“Special person. The impact that he had throughout college football and certainly for the state was pretty special,” Cash said. “Just talking to him, it was pretty impactful. To have two legendary coaches in Mike Martin and Bobby Bowden at the same time … I wish nothing but the best for his family and all of the Bowdens.”