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Around the Caribbean: Police Raid Homes Looking For Wander Franco; Playoff Races Draw Closer in LAMP, LVBP, LBPRC

 Leif Skodnick  |    Dec 27th, 2023 9:53am EST

Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Tropicana Field on Aug. 12, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. Franco hasn’t played since being accused of having a relationship with a minor on Aug. 13. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Staff Reports
World Baseball Network

Police in the Dominican Republic searched two houses in Bani looking for Tampa Bay Rays player Wander Franco.

According to Listin Diario, Santo Domingo Prosecutor’s Office for Children and Adolescents raided a pair of homes looking for Franco, who’s been accused of having a relationship with a minor.

At approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, police went to Franco’s “maternal home” in Bani, Peravia Province, looking for Franco. They also went to Franco’s home in nearby Villa Real, but didn’t find him there.

Dominican-based baseball reporter Hector Gomez reported that new evidence implicating Franco had been uncovered.

Franco didn’t finish the season with the Rays after the allegations of his alleged relationship with a minor were revealed in August. He was placed on the restricted list on August 14 and subsequently given administrative leave under the MLB and players union’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Franco returned to the Dominican Republic earlier this month.

In LVBP, Leones and Cardenales Remain Tied For First – The Leones del Caracas edged the Cardenales de Lara 7-6 in 10 innings on Harold Castro’s sac fly that scored ghost runner Freddy Fermin.

Should Caracas and Lara finish the regular season tied, Caracas would claim first place based up the LVBP’s second tie-breaking criteria, having won five of the eight games the two teams played this season.

Further down in the standings, the Bravos de Margarita, Tiburones de La Guaira, and Tigres de Aragua are competing for the final two playoff spots. Third place Margarita (29-25) has a half-game lead on La Guaira (29-26), while Aragua (27-26) is on the outside looking in.

The Aguilas del Zulia (24-31), Navegantes de Magallanes (24-31) and Caribes de Anzoategui (21-33) have been eliminated.

With a doubleheader Wednesday against last-place Anzoategui, Aragua has an opportunity to get themselves back into playoff position, while Margarita faces Magallanes and La Guaira faces Caracas.

The LVBP regular season ends Thursday with Aragua facing Margarita.

All LVBP games are streamed live on Beisbolplay.com with a paid subscription.

In Puerto Rico, Santurce and Carolina Deadlocked At The Top – The Cangrejeros de Santurce and the Gigantes de Carolina are tied atop the LBPRC standings at 23-14 with four regular season games left to be played.

The third-place Criollos de Caguas (19-16) and the Leones de Ponce (18-18) are trying to avoid playing in the Wild Card Game on Dec. 31. Caguas plays Santurce on Wednesday and Thursday and close the regular season against last-place RA12 (11-25). Caguas and Ponce face each other Friday in a game that could determine which team is in the playoffs and which team will have to survive the Wild Card Game against the Indios de Mayaguez.

Best-of-seven playoff series between the first-place team from the regular season and the winner of the Wild Card Game and the second- and third-place teams from the regular season start on January 2.

All LBPRC games are streamed live on the league’s facebook page.

Rubber Games of Penultimate Series in LAMP Wednesday – With four games remaining in the LAMP regular season, the playoff picture is coming into sharper focus.

The Aguilas de Mexicali, currently in sixth place for the second half of the season at 15-14, play the Sultanes de Monterrey Wednesday night before a three-game set against first-place Hermosillo. After earning five points for a seventh-place finish in the first half, the Aguilas will likely need a fourth-place finish to fly into the last playoff spot.

Hermosillo remains tied for first place with the Charros de Jalisco after both teams lost on Dec. 26. The Naranjeros de Hermosillo have an easier path to the top seed in the playoffs, facing Mexicali in the final regular season series, while the Charros will face the fourth-place Yaquis de Obregon (16-13).

Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico games can be streamed via Extrabase.tv for a fee.

LIDOM Says Pitch Clock Shortened Games – The LIDOM announced on Tuesday that implementation of a pitch clock has shortened game times this season.

The league’s press release said that the average game time this season was three hours and ten minutes, well below last year’s average of three hours and thirty-three minutes.

Fifty-four games were played in under three hours this season, compared to just 12 in 2022-23. Ninety-four games were played in less than three hours and 15 minutes, while only 39 games were played in that amount of time last year.

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Leif Skodnick