Mets finalize two-year deal with Franco

When Opening Day rolls around, David Wright will be 23 years old. Jose Reyes will be 22.

On selected occasions this season, the left side of the Mets' infield could wind up being younger than the first baseman.

47-year-old Julio Franco, the oldest player active in the major leagues, has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Mets, the team announced Friday.

Franco, who batted .275 with nine home runs and 42 RBI in 108 games for the Atlanta Braves last season, fits into the Mets' plans as a backup first baseman and as a power bat off the bench.

"I have admired Julio Franco for years," said Mets GM Omar Minaya. "He brings a legendary workout routine and a positive energy to the clubhouse."

In 1982...
  • British defeats Argentina in the Falklands war.
  • The Vietnam Memorial is completed in Washington, D.C.
  • The Weather Channel hits cable networks; John DeLorean arrested; John Belushi dies.
  • The nation watches E.T. and Rocky III, says goodbye to Dallas and says hello to Cheers, and listens to J. Geils Band, Hall & Oates, Human League and Survivor.

    And...

  • Julio Franco makes his major league debut, April 23 for Philadelphia.
  • Minaya - who was a minor league official with the Texas Rangers when Franco played there in the early 1990s - revealed this summer that he had hoped to bring Franco into the Mets' camp as a backup first baseman behind Doug Mientkiewicz.

    Franco was resistant to leaving the Braves then, but a two-year commitment from the Mets became the tipping point, Franco's agent Chuck Berry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    "We definitely would have stayed with Atlanta if it wasn't for this two-year deal," Berry told the newspaper Thursday. "We told teams that's the only way he would leave Atlanta."

    Since 2001, Franco has hit .292 with 29 home runs and 171 RBI in 466 games for Atlanta.

    The ageless wonder, who has said he hopes to play until he turns 50, has a career .299 batting average with 2,521 major league hits entering the 2006 season.

    Between the majors, minors, Japan, Korea and Mexico, Franco has over 3,800 career hits.


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