Jeff Francoeur went from hometown hero to defensive replacement in his fifth season as a Brave. When it appeared his career was headed in a downward spiral, a trade to the Mets breathed new life into the 25-year-old rightfielder.
"Jerry [Manuel] called me into his office and said I want you to play every day," Francoeur said before last night's 4-0 victory over the Rockies. "He gave me that confidence back that has helped me big-time."
That confidence was diminished when he no longer was a regular for the Braves after playing at least 155 games the previous three seasons, including 162 twice. Francoeur has started every game for the Mets since arriving July 11.
"It feels great to know that they want you out there every day, and they want you playing," Francoeur said.
In 14 games with the Mets, Francoeur has batted .327 with three home runs and 16 RBIs. In 82 games as a Brave, he hit .250 with five homers and 35 RBIs.
Switching to a team with several righthanded hitters like himself is one of the main reasons he believes his numbers have taken off.
"In Atlanta, you always had lefthanders, so for me to come here and have some righthanded hitters to help me out has been nice," Francoeur said. "David [Wright] and [Gary Sheffield] have been awesome giving me ideas about what to do from a righthanded standpoint."
Francoeur expects to improve even more now that he has returned home after playing 10 of his first 14 games with the Mets on the road. Francoeur believes that Citi Field will help him because it is more suitable to his style of hitting.
"For me it's great," Francoeur said. "I love to hit doubles and drive in runs like that. There are gaps here to hit it in and run. It's nice."
The Mets entered lastTuesday night's game with three straight wins for the first time since May 29. His hot hitting has been a major component, but Francoeur wouldn't go as far as to call himself the catalyst for the team's strong play.
"It's not so much energy or sparkplug, you just change things up," Francoeur said.