The Tampa Bay Rays acknowledged in a statement to multiple outlets Sunday night that they are investigating social media posts related to Major League Baseball shortstop Vander Franco.
The Rays did not specify the nature of the social media content in their statement. However, on Sunday, online postings of Franco, 22, accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor went viral.
“During today’s game, we were made aware of the social media posts circulating regarding Vander Franco,” the Rays said in a statement. “We take the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence.”
After the news broke, several media outlets reported that Franco denied the allegations on an Instagram Live segment. The post is no longer viewable on Instagram, and it’s unclear when it was published.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Basson, Franco did not accompany the team on the plane to San Francisco to begin Monday’s three-game series with the Giants.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told the Guardian on Sunday that Franco did not play in the Rays’ 9-2 loss, calling it “an off day.”
“I know the speculation. I am not going to comment further on that,” Cash told reporters. “But since it’s a holiday (it’s) a day off.”
Franco, in his third year with Tampa Bay, earned his first All-Star bid this season. He had started each of the Rays’ last 20 games before Sunday. Tampa Bay faces the Giants in San Francisco on Monday.
(Photo: MLB Photos via Thomas Skrlge/Getty Images)