Called up from Triple-A earlier today, Franco’s first big-league hit was a left-field home run against Eduardo Rodriguez in the fifth inning that tied the game at 5.
The rookie raised his right arm as he approached the plate and raised both arms as he crossed the plate towards a roaring crowd at Tropicana Field.
Franco received a nice standing ovation when he took the field to participate in the pre-game, and received a partial ovation when the Rays roster was announced over the public address system.
Franco hit on second base and played on third base. The salute turned into a full standing ovation with fans in the left-field stands chanting “Wander Franco” as he walked over to the plate to strike in the first.
After Franco stepped 3-2 the first time around, he hit a long volley down the middle in the third.
“It’s always hard to believe,” Franco said through an interpreter before the game. “I feel ready. I have waited a long time for this moment. I feel really good about it. “
Franco has hit .315 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 39 games this season at Triple-A Durham.
“I want to give 100 percent of what I have and continue the work I have done in the hopes that it will make me a superstar,” Franco said.
Rays manager Kevin Cash has said Franco will also play on time at shortstop and second base.
“I think he kind of showed everyone that he was ready,” Cash said. “Conquered all levels. In all fairness, we forced our hand. “
Red Sox manager Alex Cora compared the anticipation in the baseball world of Franco’s early days to that of Toronto star Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“He can do a lot of things on the pitch,” said Cora, who saw Franco play during spring training. “Very physical for his age. He is very strong. The future is bright for this kid. “
Franco wears the number 5 out of respect for longtime star Albert Pujols, a compatriot from the Dominican Republic.
Pujols, now a slugger for the Dodgers, made his major league debut a month and a day after Franco was born. Franco is the first major leaguer born in 2001.
Franco was 5 for 17 with a long homer in seven spring practice games for Tampa Bay this year.
To make room on the active roster, right-hander Drew Rasmussen was selected for Durham on Monday. One of the 40-man spots has been vacated, and infielder and outfield Wyatt Mathisen have been nominated for an assignment on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay had lost six straight games on Tuesday, dropping half a game behind the first-place Red Sox in LA East.