Francoeur sits out series finale
Cox opts to rest outfielder to give Blanco playing time
BOSTON -- With a number of his Boston-area relatives in attendance at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon, Jeff Francoeur was hoping to be in the Braves' lineup for their series finale against the Red Sox.
More importantly, he was hoping to once again realize the enhanced comfort level that he's recently felt at the plate. But wanting to get Gregor Blanco some playing time, Braves manager Bobby Cox decided to give Francoeur yet another chance to rest.
"It's his decision," Francoeur said. "I've been swinging the bat good lately. I had some of my best at-bats of the season [Saturday night]."
During Saturday's 3-0 loss to Red Sox, the Braves were simply dominated by Josh Beckett's five-hit, 94-pitch shutout. Their best hope for an extra-base hit died when Jacoby Ellsbury slid along the warning track to secure Francoeur's long third-inning drive to the left-center-field gap.
With a 2-0 count against Beckett in the eighth inning, Francoeur had thoughts about drilling a game-tying three-run homer. But after getting out in front of a changeup and drilling it to the left side of the left-field pole, Atlanta's right fielder grounded into an inning-ending double play.
While Francoeur has felt more comfortable at the plate recently, he's still producing disappointing results. In the 45 games that he's played dating back to May 1, the 25-year-old outfielder has hit .229 with two homers and a .557 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). In addition, Francoeur has hit just .226 in his past 62 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
As the Braves continue to explore the possibility of trading Francoeur, the Royals are at least showing some interest. They sent a scout to watch him play this weekend's series, during which he's gone hitless in six at-bats and drawn a walk.
Over the course of the last year, Francoeur has found himself regularly linked to trade talks.
"I'm not going to worry about all of that other stuff," Francoeur said. "I did that for a while and it did me no good."
While Francoeur's struggles have been widely chronicled, they haven't proven to be any more significant than the recent ones incurred by Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson, who has hit .136 with a .224 on-base percentage and a .169 slugging percentage during his first 16 games this month.
Despite hitting .342 with a 1.079 OPS during his final eight games in May, Johnson has hit just .207 with a .615 OPS in his past 31 games.
Cox also opted to rest Kelly Johnson on Sunday in favor of Martin Prado.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.