Juan Francisco might have been the least likely Braves hitter to put up a 16-pitch at-bat, like he did in the first inning Thursday night to help run Cubs pitcher Matt Garza out of the game.
An aggressive hitter by nature, Francisco kept his first inning at-bat going through 10 foul balls, before grounding out to first base. He came back with another 12-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning, accounting for 28 of Garza’s 94 pitches in the game over only four innings.
“Somebody said in the dugout he saw more pitches in one at-bat than he had seen in all of the other at-bats put together,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Francisco has seen limited duty this season, playing only 25 games at third base behind Chipper Jones and with 115 at-bats, entering the Phillies series. But he made up for lost time Thursday, using his first two at-bats to tune up, before blasting a home run in the eighth inning, his sixth of the season.
The Braves knew the power was there. And they’re seeing some fruits of adjustments he’s making with hitting coach Greg Walker, trying to cut down on some of his movement at the plate triggered by the placement of his front foot.
“To his credit he’s gone into the batting cage every day to do some mechanical changes,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard to do that at the major league level, a guy who’s done it his way for a long time.”
Francisco is feeling a difference.
“It’s helping me a lot,” he said.