Thumb injury forces Francoeur to miss game for first time

Mets rightfielder Jeff Francouer after lining into a

Mets rightfielder Jeff Francouer after lining into a triple play to end Sunday's game. (Credit: Getty Images)

Jeff Francoeur had never missed a big-league game because of injury in his four-plus seasons.

Then, of course, he became a Met.

Francoeur missed yesterday's game with a torn ligament in his left thumb, an injury diagnosed Mondaymorning with an MRI exam at the Hospital for Special Surgery - the Mets' home away from home this season. The former high school football player said he'll try to play through the injury, which had his left thumb so swollen, it was twice the size of his right one.

"If I can swing a bat, I'm going to get out there and play," Francoeur said after the Mets' 6-2 loss to the Phillies. "I know things are difficult around here, but at the same time, I feel good. I'm not just going to call it quits for the year unless I can't play through it."

Francoeur did swing a bat soon after he got hurt Sunday, and it was a historic swing at that - he lined into a game-ending unassisted triple play.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, he made a diving catch in rightfield but bent his thumb back as his glove hit the ground. He didn't have much time to agonize about it; second-base umpire Rob Drake incorrectly ruled that Francoeur trapped the ball, and Eric Bruntlett made it to third. Francoeur immediately threw the ball in and charged toward the infield to plead his case with Drake. Then the umpires got together and correctly reversed the call to end the inning; Bruntlett, of course, got the last laugh by turning the triple play on Francoeur's liner.

Postgame X-rays were negative, but Francoeur said the thumb blew up overnight. "I felt like it was a bad jam; I've had those before," he said. "But it just wasn't getting any better."

Francoeur will have to wait a day or two for the swelling to subside before he can swing a bat and gauge how it affects him. Alex Cora had the same injury with both thumbs, and after toughing it out for a month, he decided to shut it down for the season and have surgery.

"What I don't want to see is an adjustment in his swing," Jerry Manuel said. "He's been swinging the bat so well for us. That's where we have to be careful."

With Johan Santana's elbow problem, the Mets have bigger issues. But Francoeur, acquired from the Braves on July 11, had been hitting .305 with six homers and 24 RBIs and had locked into the cleanup spot in the patchwork lineup.

"I've missed games because I stunk, because I needed a day off," said Francoeur, who played all 162 games each of his first two full seasons with Atlanta and played 155 last year. "I've been pretty lucky."

But now he's a Met, so forget about all that.

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