We talked about Forsythe’s absence above, and this is the case where he does actually replace Loney. One major issue is that Forsythe has played first base just once in his professional career, but with Sean Rodriguez in Pittsburgh, we have to expect that he will see time at the position this spring. Alternatively, Steven Souza, who played first base 117 times in the minors, could play first with Forsythe at DH and Guyer in left field.
Loney’s name recognition makes it strange for him to be out of the Rays’ lineup, but his defense simply isn’t good enough for him to play all the time against lefties if he isn’t hitting them. Kiermaier is a different story because his defense is so spectacular in right field, and it is always nice for the Rays to have at least one left-handed batter in their lineup at all times.
Our general rule will be that Franklin can back up Beckham as long as at least one of Loney and Kiermaier is not in the lineup, and that is obviously true here. Especially if Franklin’s defense is better than Beckham’s at shortstop or if Beckham isn’t hitting anyway, it will make sense for the Rays to use the absence of one of their lefty bats to get Franklin some reps against left-handers.