0

Francoeur earning cheers in N.Y.

ATLANTA - When Jeff Francoeur first faced his old team, the right fielder was still working through the emotions of being traded away by his hometown Atlanta Braves and he was far from settled in with his new team.

A month later, Francoeur and wife Catie have a place on Long Island to call home for the season and it no longer seems strange for the Parkview graduate to put on a New York Mets uniform rather than one with a tomahawk across the chest.

The Braves open a three-game series at New York's Citi Field tonight and the emotions won't be nearly as raw as when the teams played at Turner Field right after the All-Star break.

"I'm sure it will be more comfortable for him," said Braves catcher Brian McCann, Francoeur's long-time friend and teammate.

Although he was well received by his old Atlanta fans during the July series, he was still playing for the enemy. With the Mets, he is one of the few players that New Yorkers still have to cheer for in an injury-riddled season.

Francoeur was 3-for-16 against the Braves in Atlanta, but he has had few other tough times with the Mets, who badly need his production. With David Wright joining Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado on the disabled list, Francoeur is the Mets' main offensive threat.

Francoeur hit five homers and drove in 21 runs in his first 32 games with New York after having just five homers and 35 RBIs in 82 games with the Braves. He also had a .295 average after going 2-for-4 and scoring the winning run in the ninth inning Sunday against San Francisco. He was hitting .250 with Atlanta.

The free swinger still wasn't drawing many walks, but his .331 on-base average was a big improvement over his .282 mark with a Atlanta and his slugging percentage had jumped from .358 to .467.

"He's been doing great," said McCann, who talks to his former teammate several times a week. "I think that it has worked out well for him. He can relax a little bit more up there. I'm happy for him. Maybe he just needed a change."

After this series, the Braves and Mets still have six more games remaining. They play Sept. 15-17 in Atlanta and Sept. 21-23 in New York.