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Francoeur escapes beaning with busted lip in Braves win

POSTED: March 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
The Associated Press/

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, left, checks on Atlanta Braves' Jeff Francoeur after Francoeur was hit in the face by a pitch during the second inning of a spring training game Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. Francoeur left the field bleeding from his mouth but under his own power.

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JUPITER, Fla. — Jeff Francoeur still has a plate in his head from a serious beaning in 2004. He walked away with a busted lip this time.

The Atlanta Braves’ right fielder knew soon after getting hit by a pitch in the second inning of Sunday’s 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that he wasn’t seriously injured. X-rays taken at a hospital were negative and Francoeur could be back in the lineup in a few days.

Still, it was a scare for his teammates.

"You hate to see that, especially this close to the end of spring training," Braves pitcher Tom Glavine said. "Obviously, he’s right at the top of the list of guys you just don’t think you can afford to have out for any length of time."

Francoeur was down for a few minutes after being struck by a pitch from Todd Wellemeyer, but did not lose consciousness and walked off the field accompanied by a trainer. Francoeur returned to Roger Dean Stadium about the time the game was ending.

"I’m glad," Wellemeyer said. "It was just a changeup that got away from me."

Francoeur had the orbital bone around his right eye broken in 2004 when he played for Class-A Myrtle Beach, one reason the Braves were concerned. He was hit on the left side of his face Sunday.

"There’s no doubt I’m feeling some pain," Francoeur said. "Luckily it didn’t mess up my jaw."

Yunel Escobar hit his second home run of the spring, a two-run shot in the third, and Chipper Jones hit his first for the Braves.

They were the first homers allowed in four spring starts by Wellemeyer, who has the inside track on the fourth or fifth rotation spot after working five innings and giving up three runs.

"I felt good, the best I’ve felt all spring," Wellemeyer said.

Glavine allowed two runs and six hits in five innings, the longest of his four spring starts. He was resourceful in the third after leadoff hits by Skip Schumaker and Brian Barton, allowing a run-scoring groundout by Albert Pujols and then retiring Rick Ankiel on a double-play ball.

"Not by any means do I feel like I’m locked in on all my pitches all the time," Glavine said. "It kind of comes and goes, but the spurts are greater than they were my first few times."

Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen was scratched from his fifth spring appearance because of a stiff back.

"He was walking around like it’s all right," manager Tony La Russa said. "We just didn’t want to take any chances."

Escobar leads the Braves with 12 RBIs after his shot to center and is batting .472.

Cesar Izturis hit an RBI triple in the fourth for the Cardinals, giving him five hits to go with his team-leading five errors at shortstop. The Cardinals have nine triples this spring, three by Barton and two by Izturis, after totaling 13 last season.

Notes: Results of OF Juan Gonzalez’s MRI exam (left abdominal strain) will be read by a specialist on Monday, but the Cardinals don’t expect anything significant from an injury that has sidelined him for six games. ... St. Louis RHP Matt Clement threw 41 pitches in a fourth batting practice session and was not as sharp as the previous outing on Thursday, so pitching coach Dave Duncan has scheduled another session for later this week. "I did not think he threw as well as the last time out," Duncan said. "And he didn’t, either."



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