CINCINNATI – Fredi Gonzalez didn’t appreciate Juan Francisco’s bat-flip and slow trot after hitting a second-inning homer against his former Cincinnati team Tuesday, and the Braves manager let the backup third baseman know it.
“I spoke to the young man about that the following inning and told him that we try not to do that here,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t like it here. The Braves have been known for a classy organization and I don’t encourage anyone to do that. Somebody could get hurt [by a retaliation pitch], one of his teammates or even himself. And hopefully he got the message.”
Francisco, whom the Reds traded to the Braves in the last weekend of spring training, hit the home run in his initial at-bat in his first game back at at- Great American Ball Park, one of only two hits the Braves had in the 4-1 loss. Reds fans booed after he watched the ball sail into the bullpen beyond the right-field corner, then flipped his bat, dragged his feet for a couple of steps and trotted around the bases.
Reds pitcher Mike Leake said, “It kind of [ticked] me off, giving it up to him of all people.”
Some wondered if the incident might carry over to Tuesday’s game, when Leake’s’ friend Mat Latos was to pitch for the Reds. Francisco was in the lineup Tuesday for the fourth consecutive game in place of Chipper Jones, who’s recovering from a severe leg contusion.
“I should lead him off today just in case,” Gonzalez said, smiling. “No, I don’t think [it’ll carry over]. They know him. I don’t think the kid did it maliciously. He said, ‘That’s just the way I do things.’ I said, you’ve got 10 home runs in the big leagues, what do you mean that’s the way you do things?”
The manager was asked which of Francisco’s actions annoyed him, the bat flip or the delay at the start of a leisurely trot.
“The whole act,” said Gonzalez, who didn’t mention the incident publicly until asked by a reporter Tuesday. “Down here [in the dugout] you can’t really see, and I thought, OK, maybe he [hesitated because he] thought it’s hooking foul. Then all of a sudden I pick up the ball out of the corner of my eye and I’m going, that ball’s not even close to the foul pole.
“Then I look back down [to Francisco]. For me, for our team there’s no place for that in our game…. I spoke to him about it and I may go over there and talk to Bake [Reds manager Dusty Baker] about it.”
Gonzalez smiled and added, “But he should know; they had him…. He was here before Dusty got here. I don’t think Dusty likes that stuff either.”