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Braves notebook: Fancoeur wanting to be more productive

POSTED: June 18, 2008 5:01 a.m.

ATLANTA — Jeff Francoeur gave himself a mixed grade Saturday on his season so far.

He says he’ll take his power numbers — seven homers and 36 RBIs — but would like to see some other statistics improve in the final 100 games of the season.

Francoeur is hitting only .240 (18 for 75) with runners in scoring position, including only .133 (2 for 15) with the bases loaded.

Francoeur twice left the bases loaded in Friday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was 0-for-5 overall, dropping his batting average to .249.

"I feel I’ve left some guys on that I should be driving in, and that’s been frustrating," Francoeur said.

Francoeur had the majors’ longest active streak of consecutive games played at 370 before he sat out a game on May 20. He came back the next day with three hits, including a homer, and drove in four runs in an 11-4 win over the New York Mets.

Francoeur felt he was refreshed and on track, but then he went 0-for-4 in back-to-back games. He says that’s not the only time this season he wrongly believed he was about to start a hot streak.

"It’s crazy," he said. "I can’t remember a year where I’ll come up one day and get two hits and the next day hit a couple balls hard and they’ll get caught and then I’ll get caught in a little bit of a funk.

"It seems I can’t catch a break or when I feel I start to roll I just can’t get things to keep rolling my way." Francoeur’s batting average fell below .250 for the first time this season on Friday night. He hit a bases-loaded fly ball to center field to end the third inning and lined out to left field with the bases loaded in the seventh.

Francoeur has driven in more than 100 runs in each of his first two seasons. He hit .293 with 19 homers and 105 RBIs last season and was hoping to boost his home-run total this year.

"I realize there’s 100 games left in the season," he said. "Am I happy with my power and production? Yeah, but as far as where my swing is at, I’m not real happy with it. At the same time I know there’s a lot of time to turn it around and I believe I’ll do it."This team needs me to swing a bat and drive in runs, and hopefully I can do that."

Soriano’s status still uncertain

Manager Bobby Cox said Saturday he expected to have Rafael Soriano available to pitch in the ninth inning in a save situation Friday night. Instead, after Soriano began warming up, he told bullpen coach Eddie Perez he couldn’t pitch.

"We thought he was coming in," Cox said.

Cox said he didn’t know if Soriano would be available if needed Saturday night. Soriano appeared in back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday, recording a save on Tuesday. He wasn’t available on Wednesday night, when Manny Acosta suffered a blown save.

Soriano returned to earn his third save on Thursday night, giving up one hit in one inning, before saying he couldn’t pitch Friday night.



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