Francoeur walks, takes heat from teammates

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks talked with rookie Jeff Francoeur after his first big league walk Sunday night.


"It doesn't count."

After the Braves win over the San Diego Padres Sunday night, you heard that comment in the lockerroom once or twice. This is a happy lockerroom these days, and that comment was directed toward a 21-year-old outfielder that took a walk.

Finally.

Padres reliever Akinori Otsuka was the culprit. In the bottom of the 8th inning, he walked Jeff Francoeur - intentionally. It was the first time in 131 plate appearances that the rookie had walked.

But as Andruw Jones told the kid more than once after the game, "It doesn't count."

When Francoeur got to first base, he heard the ovation. It was a little louder than the crowd usually provides for someone getting a free pass.

"Yeah, it was big time," he said after the game. "The guys say it didn't count as a walk, so maybe I can get another one next time. They were all laughing so hard. Half of them said it was official, and the other half said it was unofficial. So we'll have to see what happens next time."

Don't count Francoeur as one that has worried about his inability to take a walk. While the sports talk shows and the Internet message boards have plum had bets on when the walk would happen, he's just been doing what he does best - hitting.

"I don't care," he admitted. "Not worried at all. That's my swing and that's the way I'm going to play the game. I don't worry about what other people say about that. I'm not concerned about that. It was just a nice win for us tonight."

That's the main thing Francoeur is concerned about right now, helping this team stay in first place. While the reporters, myself included, were quick to run over and get a reaction from the quote machine, he was more focused on what the team must do this week to stay in first place.

"It was important for us to get a win tonight," Francoeur said. "Smoltzie pitched great. I wish we could have gotten the win tonight for him. It felt real good to win. I think that put us at 6 and 6 for the homestand. We wanted to do a little bit better, but it's nice to come out with a win tonight."

Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development that includes a chapter on Jeff Francoeur. "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team" is available at Barnes and Noble bookstores and at amazon.com. Bill can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com.

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