CINCINNATI — Welcome home, Juan. Boooooo.
Filling in for Chipper Jones on Monday, Braves third baseman Juan Francisco homered in his first at-bat back at his old home ballpark in Cincinnati. The second-inning solo shot tied the score at 1-all against his former team, and plenty of Reds fans booed as Francisco took a rather leisurely trot around the bases.
The former Reds corner-infield prospect was traded to Atlanta on the last weekend of spring training. Francisco didn’t get much playing time in Cincinnati with Joey Votto and Scott Rolen on the infield corners.
Francisco is perhaps best remembered by Reds fans for a 502-foot homer he hit in September that sailed entirely over the right-field stands and out of the ballpark, the longest homer ever hit at the stadium.
He had a .212 average with three homers, 11 RBIs and 21 strikeouts in 66 at-bats for the Braves before Monday, when he made his 15th start at third base.
“We got him to [fill in when needed] for Chipper,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said before the game. “He’s done that. He’s done fine.”
Beachy faces test Tuesday
If there’s a more homer-friendly NL ballpark than Colorado, most players will tell you it’s Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, sometimes referred to as Great American Small Park. Brandon Beachy has already tamed Coors Field this season, now he’ll bring his majors-leading 1.33 ERA to Cincy.
With his national profile rising with each start, Beachy (5-1) will face Reds right-hander Mat Latos (2-2, 4.63 ERA) on Tuesday.
“He’s going to just continue to do the same thing he’s been doing, mixing in all three of his pitches and commanding all of his pitches and going deep in the ballgame,” Gonzalez said. “This place is tough for pitchers and the managers. I talked with [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell], I said don’t let me go to that bullpen too often. I remember coming in here as a first-year manager with Florida and the sixth inning you’re going right, left, right [relievers] … by the eighth inning you’ve only got one guy left in the bullpen.”