Tag:Jeff Francoeur
Posted on: June 5, 2011 7:46 pm

"Instant hero" Hosmer looks like a KC keeper

KANSAS CITY -- He is quickly becoming this year's breakout rookie, this summer's Buster Posey or Stephen Strasburg.

Rattle a couple of home runs around Yankee Stadium within a week of your major-league debut, and that'll help.

But Eric Hosmer, Kansas City's 21-year-old first baseman, it far more than just a tabloid sensation.

"He's a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman," Royals manager Ned Yost says. "And he's got as pretty a swing as I've seen since J.D. Drew."

"As mature a 21-year-old as I've seen in a long time," Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur says. "I wish I had half his approach when I was 21. But I was Mr. Cave Man, just letting it go."

Hosmer is anything but. He is refined enough to change his approach from at-bat to at-bat, and he is savvy enough to hit to all fields.

His 28 hits and 12 runs scored during the month of May led all American League rookies. Impressive in its own right, but when you consider that that he wasn't even promoted from Triple-A Omaha until May 6 ... talk about hitting the ground running.

For that, Hosmer, Kansas City's first-round pick in the 2008 draft (third overall), also was named as the Royals' player of the month for hitting .283 with five homers and 17 RBI.

"Spring training helped me a lot," says Hosmer, who won the Class A Carolina League batting title last year (.354) and tied for the league lead in on-base percentage (.429). "They invited me to big league camp knowing I wasn't going to make the team. They just told me to learn as much as possible and have fun with it.

"I tried to take that to Omaha. I told myself to work harder and learn as much as possible."

By the end of his month-long run there, there was barely any more to learn: Hosmer was leading all of minor-league baseball in both batting average (.439) and on-base percentage (.525) at the time of his recall.

A big man (6-4, 229 pounds) with lots of power, what the major-league spring training invite did was not only help boost his confidence, but make him even more comfortable with Yost and his staff. That way, when Hosmer joined the Royals in Kansas City on May 6, they didn't need to waste time with introductions. He already knew everyone and the way they worked.

The New York home runs came on May 11 -- first of his career against A.J. Burnett -- and May 12. Yeah, right, if you can make it there. ...

"He became an instant hero here with that," says television analyst Frank White, who was slick enough at second base that he was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame. "That put an exclamation mark on his start."

By the time Minnesota left town after sweeping the Royals on Sunday, Hosmer was hitting .300 and carrying a seven-game hitting streak. He's hitting .400 during that streak, including five multi-hit games.

Talking before Sunday's game, several Twins coaches were marveling about how their pitchers had thrown Hosmer everything during the first three games of the series and rarely fooled him. Hosmer, they said, makes adjustments pitch-to-pitch, within the same at-bat, something that's difficult for most veterans, let alone a kid who on Sunday played in only his 28th big-league game.

So far, Hosmer has hit safely in 21 of those 28 games, including in 15 of 17 in Kauffman Stadium.

"He's got a long career ahead of him," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, himself a first-round pick (2004), says. "Whenever he goes through his growing pains, he's just going to get better and better.

"He's got the makings of an All-Star."


Posted on: October 29, 2010 8:42 pm

Trick-or-treating with Jeff Francoeur

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- There was a time when the boys of autumn who will be playing a World Series game on Halloween night this weekend dressed up and trick-or-treated like most every other kid.

And Texas outfielder Jeff Francoeur still lights up at the thought of his old neighbors across the street supplying a cotton candy machine for kids on Halloween night.

In fact, that's such a sweet memory for Francoeur that when he was playing in Atlanta and living with Braves catcher Brian McCann, the two rented a cotton candy maching for Halloween, 2006.

"I swear we had 700 kids lined up," Francoeur says. "Their parents wanted a margarita machine."

Amiable hosts that they were, Francoeur and McCann drew the line there, and not just because they were short on salt.

"I don't really think that would be good on Halloween," Francoeur says, smiling broadly.

Likes: The Margaritaville frozen drinks machine that my buddy Dr. Dan sent to me a couple of springs ago after he picked one up for his office party one year when the Indianapolis Colts were headed to the Super Bowl. ... The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco. Had the King Henry VIII cut the other night with three different kinds of horseradish. Excellent, excellent meal. ... Snickers and M&Ms on Halloween. Hot Tamales and Milk Duds are good. No Butterfinger bars or Milky Ways, please.

Dislikes: The World Series on Halloween. Besides the fact that baseball should not be played into November for myriad reasons, it takes me away from my daughter and her friends as they trick-or-treat and from my wife on her birthday (yes, Halloween day). Time was, if you covered baseball, Halloween was extra festive because it marked the beginning of some time at home in the off-season. No more, and it stinks.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The zombies were having fun
"The party had just begun
"The guests included Wolf Man
"Dracula and his son
"The scene was rockin', all were digging the sounds
"Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
"The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
"With their vocal group, "The Crypt-Kicker Five"

-- Bobby "Boris" Pickett, The Monster Mash

Posted on: March 16, 2008 7:25 pm

Bonjour, Mr. Gagne

MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Brewers manager Ned Yost has learned to say "good morning" in French to Quebec native Eric Gagne, but other than that, Yost mostly is hands-off. And truth be told, is paying closer attention to folks other than his new closer.

Mostly, Gagne has been honing his skills on the back fields while preparing for the season. He's worked in only two "A" games so far, and three "B" games.

"He's a different animal," Yost says. "He's been in the game for quite awhile. He knows what it takes to be successful. The main thing that kicks in with guys like him is adrenalin, and you're not going to see that with Gagne until the season starts."

Yost is completely dismissing Gagne's struggles in Boston last summer when he went 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA and practically was booed out of town.

Instead, he points to the 16 saves and 2.16 ERA earlier in the year in Texas.

"Two different jobs," Yost says.

Gagne also is a different animal in that he essentially missed two seasons, 2005 and 2006, with injuries, then did well in Texas for part of last season and then was terrible in Boston. Plus, he was named in the Mitchell Report as a suspected steroids user.

So how can a manager be completely confident that Gagne will become Mr. Dependable Closer? Blind faith?

"Absolutely he's ready to go, and it's not even blind faith," Yost says. "It's solid faith."

Gagne says he is throwing "awesome. I'm feeling good. No pain. No stiffness. I'm throwing free and easy."

He's got no restrictions physically, and he's thrown all of his pitches -- including his nasty change-up -- in each of his past two outings. Before that, he says, he only threw his fastball while working on arm strength and location.

"That's why I like 'B' games," he says.

Meantime, the man who signed a one-year, $10 million deal is very happy in his new home.

"They're young here," Gagne says. "They've got a lot of energy.

"It's pretty cool."

Likes: Prince Fielder mimicking batting stances from other players -- both Brewers and non-Brewers -- in the Milwaukee clubhouse, and outfielder Mike Cameron nearly doubled over in laughter. ... Justin Upton ready to start in right field for Arizona at 20. ... Barry Zito winning a Cactus League game despite surrendering seven runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. The ball flies in the thin desert air. ... Monti's Steakhouse in Tempe. ... Chatting with former Oakland skipper Ken Macha in Tempe the other day. Macha, entering his second season after being fired by Oakland, is itching to get back into uniform. ... Butler in the NCAA tournament, but not playing South Alabama in Alabama. Come on, the Bulldogs deserve better.

Dislikes: The Mets' Carlos Delgado needing stitches after getting speared by a broken bat. Forget, for a minute, base coaches now being forced to wear helmets. Talk to anybody in uniform over the past few years, and one of the greatest fears is a jagged, broken bat doing some serious damage, and possibly killing someone. Thank goodness Delgado got out of it with only four stitches. ... Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur getting beaned in the lip by St. Louis pitcher Todd Wellemeyer. If the situation was reversed, why do I have the feeling that Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa would be starting World War III, and going on about how it's never an accident when a pitch sails near somebody's head? ... Arizona coach Kirk Gibson turns 51 in May? When did he turn 50?

Sunblock day? We avoided the predicted thunderstorms -- at least, in the Phoenix area -- and got a mix of sun and clouds. But the temperature dropped toward the 50s. More long pants and jacket day than sunblock day.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"This old heart of mine been broke a thousand times
"Each time you break away I feel you're gone to stay
"Lonely nights that come, memories that flow
"Bringin' ya back again, hurting me more and more"

-- The Isley Brothers, This Old Heart of Mine

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