Juan Francisco has made the most of filling in for Chipper Jones, hitting .288 (34-for-118) with seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 33 starts at third base. He went 2-for-4 with two doubles Wednesday night to make him 13-for-30 (.433) in his past 15 games since July 18.
Francisco is seeing the fruits of two months of intensive work with hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher, trying to break some bad mechanical habits.
“We, as a group, convinced him that what he was doing was not going to work, but that we never doubted his talent,” Walker said. “We knew that if he made the adjustment, he would have a chance at being a really good player.”
Walker said Francisco has been working hard to tone down his rotational motion that causes him to fly open and mistime breaking pitches. He’s been working to keep his front foot square so he has more leverage off his front leg.
“He could slow it down even more for me, but he’s working on it,” Walker said. “He does some things as good as anybody I’ve ever coached. His bottom hand is tremendous, and I think he’s learned how to swing the bat using it correctly, being more direct to the baseball.”
This is Francisco’s first full season in the majors and he’s got 151 at-bats, almost as many as his first three major league stints with the Reds combined (169 at-bats).
“This season I’ve gotten more opportunity,” Francisco said. “I have some time to get better.”
Francisco plans to play winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. He wants to shed 10-15 more pounds and come into spring training ready to compete for a bigger role.