Franco has been on the injured list since July 10 with a right hamate bone injury that ultimately required surgery. He started for Triple-A Durham on Monday and was expected to play seven innings at shortstop, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth after experiencing some discomfort in the hand during his second and final at-bat.
Speaking after the Rays' 4-3 win against the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told reporters that he doesn't think Franco will need X-rays on the hand and likely will be re-evaluated by Durham on Wednesday since the minor league team is off Tuesday.
It's been a start-and-stop season for Franco, the young phenom who signed an $182 million, 11-year contract in November with the Rays.
He missed 23 games earlier this year with a strained right quadriceps, then was sidelined by the hamate injury. He played part of one game in mid-August for Durham but departed early due to hand soreness, then resumed his rehab action Monday, only to see it stall again.
He was expected to spend all of this week playing with Durham and then potentially join the wild card-leading Rays, who have narrowed the gap in the AL East and are 5 games back of the first-place New York Yankees.
Franco, 21, has a .260 average along with five homers and 23 RBI over 58 games in 2022.
Last year, he hit .288 with 18 doubles, 5 triples, 7 homers and 39 RBI in 70 games last year, finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting.