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Braves notebook: Francoeur returns to Atlanta with Mets
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ATLANTA — Jeff Francoeur's trade to the New York Mets hit home on Thursday when he returned to his Atlanta hometown.

"Now the one team you're never supposed to like, you're on," Francoeur said of the Mets before Thursday night's game against his former Atlanta Braves teammates.

The Braves traded Francoeur to the Mets for Ryan Church on Friday in an exchange of right fielders.

Francoeur started and hit fifth for the Mets in his return to Atlanta. Braves manager Bobby Cox started Matt Diaz instead of Church in right field against Mets left-hander Oliver Perez.

"From talking with Bobby, there's a lot of left-handers in this division, and he did tell me I'm going to be playing against a lot of them," Church said.

"He's not going to get any complaints from me. I'm here to be a piece of the puzzle. I'll show up every day and expect to be in the lineup and if not come off the bench."

Church's attitude has already impressed Cox.

"He's a gamer," Cox said. "I've heard that and now I see it all over him."

Francoeur said Cox deserves some credit for his 4-for-9 start in his first two games with the Mets. Francoeur said he received some late tips from Cox on Friday morning in Colorado before the trade was announced.

"Bobby helped me make some adjustments," Francoeur said. "We watched some film that morning."

Cox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel talked during batting practice on Thursday.

"We just hope he gets back to the 100 RBI days he had in Atlanta," said Manuel of Francoeur, who was hitting only .250 with five homers and 35 RBIs at the time of the trade.

Each player said he is still adjusting to the trade. Church described the last few days as "a whirlwind" as he looked for a new home in Atlanta during the All-Star break.

Francoeur called the trade "surreal" but said he may benefit by playing away from Atlanta.

"I think I'll be able to concentrate a lot more on baseball," said Francoeur, referring to the pressure of trying to satisfy his hometown fans.

"It's a great opportunity. It's a huge stage in New York," he said.

"It kind of felt refreshing to get up there and get away (from Atlanta)."

Francoeur said his former longtime roommate and friend from Gwinnett County in metro Atlanta, Braves catcher Brian McCann, "is the one guy I'm really going to miss."

HUDSON THROWS BP: Tim Hudson moved closer to his return from elbow ligament-replacement surgery by throwing batting practice. He said the session was his last before beginning his minor league rehabilitation on Sunday.

"It went well," Hudson said. "That's it, I'm ready to go on Sunday."

Cox said Hudson likely will need to pitch in "at least six" minor league games.

Cox and general manager Frank Wren face an interesting decision when Hudson is ready for the major leagues. The Braves' rotation includes Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Kenshin Kawakami and rookie Tommy Hanson.

Hudson is signed through 2009. Hudson and the Braves hold a mutual option for 2010 that would pay him $12 million, with a $1 million buyout.

Hudson is 54-38 with a 3.78 ERA in four seasons with the Braves, including an 11-7 record and 3.17 ERA in 2008 before his season-ending surgery on Aug. 8.

METS CALL UP BERROA: The Mets selected the contract of former AL Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa from Triple-A Buffalo before the game. Berroa, 31, was signed as a minor league free agent on Saturday after he was designated for assignment by the Yankees on June 24.

Berroa, an infielder, was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2003, when he hit .287 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs with Kansas City. He hit .230 in 84 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season and hit .136 in 21 games with the Yankees this season.

BRAVES BITS: Infielder Omar Infante, who has missed 50 games with a broken bone in his left hand, said he plans to start swinging a bat on Monday. Cox said Infante is about two weeks away from beginning his minor league rehab. ... Chipper Jones, back in the starting lineup at third base, said he has recovered from a groin injury. He missed two games and appeared only as a pinch-hitter in a third game at Colorado before the All-Star break

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