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UPDATE: Why the Maikel Franco situation raises an eyebrow

Maikel Franco has arrived in camp, but was he sending a message to the Phils' brass?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As of Monday afternoon, Maikel Franco has not reported to Phillies camp in Clearwater.


He was not delayed because of visa problems, and he was not delayed because his plane broke down. He simply had not arrived yet, and it was not mandated that he arrive until Tuesday, February 23, the first official full day of workouts for position players.

And under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are not required to show up to spring training until March 1. So Franco is nowhere close to being "late."

That every other teammate (except reliever Yoervis Medina, who was delayed by visa problems) was already at the complex is what made this story news. Franco has not, however, broken any rules, as outlined by team manager Pete Mackanin.

"I'm not going to be critical of anybody who doesn't come early," Mackanin said. "If we wanted guys to come two weeks ago we should have a longer spring training.

"He's in for a long season. He played winter ball. Whenever he gets here, as long as he's here when he's supposed to be, I'm fine with it. He's due to be here (Tuesday)."

And according to CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury, a team official said "He'll have his physical and be on the field [Tuesday morning]."

So there you go. Case closed. Nothing more to see here.

Except, maybe there is. As I see it, there are two issues.

The first is that while Franco is not "late," he is also the only one of his teammates not at camp. I agree with much of the excellent piece written by Michael Baumann on this topic, that it is not fair for teams to expect players to show up for mandatory events early.

The start-up date is the start-up date, and that's the way it should be. I know that, in my job, I certainly like to be compensated for extra work I do and would bristle if that ever changed.

The only trouble with that notion is that the rest of his teammates are already there, and the worry is that guys might resent Franco not being there.

Of course, you could argue they should support Franco's stand, and allow it to set a precedent for themselves. But remember, these are mostly young players, and Franco is supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the next solid core.

The second issue is the grievance filed by Franco last year. Remember, his agent, Ryan Royster, filed a grievance against the Phillies for delaying his call-up to the Majors last season, thereby pushing back his free agency by a full season. That essentially deprives Franco of the opportunity to make tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars by one full year.

On May 12, the Phils sent Cody Asche, their everyday third baseman, down to the minors, but did not recall Franco until May 15, thereby keeping him from reaching a full year of Major League service by two days.

It's not unreasonable to think Franco and his agent are sending the Phillies an oh-so subtle message here.

Now, this is not to be an alarmist, and it's not to criticize Franco. This is not a "hit piece" on Franco, either. He is a talented player, and as long as he reports "on time," he's done nothing wrong.

But that doesn't mean there aren't some things to keep an eye on, here.

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