| 8 years ago||
|Braves demote Francoeur to Class AA Mississippi
'I do not agree with this,' struggling outfielder says
By CARROLL ROGERS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/04/08
The Braves have sent struggling right fielder Jeff Francoeur to AA Mississippi, and the homegrown talent is not happy about it.
"This has really put a damper on my relationship with the Atlanta Braves," Francoeur told the AJC.
Do you agree with the decision to send Jeff Francoeur to the minor leagues?
Yes. 74.59% 7062
No. 16.93% 1603
Not sure. 8.48% 803
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It was Friday morning, and the emotion was still pretty raw from the night before, when he learned about the move in a meeting with manager Bobby Cox, general manager Frank Wren, a.ssistant manager Bruce Manno and coaches Terry Pendleton and Chino Cadahia.
Francoeur turned down a long-term contract offer from the Braves last year and has had his contract renewed each of the last two seasons.
"I love playing for the city, I love playing for the fans and always have," said Francoeur, a graduate of Parkview High School in Lilburn. "But I'm disappointed with the decision and how the whole process went down."
Francoeur said he thought he might have been warned ahead of time the Braves were considering such a move. He said Thursday's conversation â€” which lasted maybe five minutes â€” came as a surprise to him after playing nearly every day for three seasons.
He has missed only two starts in the last three seasons â€” May 20 vs. the Mets and June 22 vs. the Mariners. This season he's played with a bruised hand after getting hit by a pitch and on a sore ankle, which he said will likely require surgery after the season.
"I do not agree with this, but I have to do what I have to do," Francoeur said.
Francoeur said he was given the option of going to AAA Richmond and AA Mississippi and chose Mississippi because of his relationship with manager Phillip Wellman, who was his hitting coach when he was last in the minors in Mississippi in 2005.
He was scheduled to fly to Mississippi on Friday afternoon to join the Mississippi Braves lineup Friday night.
A statement released Friday morning by Braves team spokesman Brad Hainje said: "It was discussed with Jeff that this move will allow him to get at-bats in a less pressurized environment. Francoeur will re-join the major league club following the upcoming All-Star break."
Hainje said Wren was planning to address the subject publicly Friday afternoon before the Braves take the field for batting practice.
The Braves have called up outfielder Jason Perry from Class AAA Richmond who was hitting .302 in 31 games for Richmond with five homers and 14 RBIs. Perry is a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket who joined the Braves minor league organization this spring.
Francoeur has hit only .121 in his last 18 games going back to mid-June, dropping his season batting average from .261 to .234.
This will be Francoeur's first trip back to the minors since he was called up from AA Mississippi nearly three years ago. He's lived a mostly charmed baseball career since then â€” hitting a three-run home run in his major league debut on July 7, 2005 and making the cover of Sports Illustrated later that year.
Francoeur drove in more than 100 runs in each of his last two seasons. He hit 29 home runs in 2006 with a .260 average and came back the following year with an improved average at .293 and watched his home runs dip to 19. He came into this spring, having gained some weight, hoping to combine both a better average and power.
Neither has happened, and it's been a struggle for a player the Braves had counted on as one of their main run producers. Francoeur has eight home runs and 41 RBIs through 85 games. He's hit .198 (20-for-101) with runners in scoring position, including only .100 (2-for-20) with the bases loaded.
"His attitude is to turn this into a positive," his agent Molly Fletcher said.