On Sunday, Lou Piniella said Kosuke Fukudome—with 2 HR and an OPS of 602 since July 1st—would have to snap out of his slump if he wanted to hold his place in the Cubs lineup.

On Saturday when the Braves played the Diamondbacks, Bobby Cox's batting order did not include Jeff Francoeur, who has hit just .209 with 6 HR in 90 games since April 25th and has just 1 HR in his last 176 at-bats. Instead Cox started rookie Gregor Blanco, who went o-for-2 with 3 walks.

On Tuesday, Paul Sullivan of the Tribune reported that Piniella was backing away from what he said a little more than 48 hours previously:

In [Tuesday night's scheduled] game...[Piniella] had Fukudome in right field and hitting second in the lineup.

"We want this young man to hit," Piniella said. "We're pulling for him. … I never said I was disappointed. All I said, basically, was we'd like to see him start hitting—and it created a stir. I mean, I've said that about other players.

"He's a good player, a real good player, and to his credit, he has continued to hustle and he has played really well in right field. He's just in a little bit of a slump...He's not working the count the way he was earlier. He just needs to swing at more strikes.

"I really respect him and I really like him as a player. But I get asked every day, and I said, 'Look, if a guy is struggling, whether it's Fukudome or anybody else—if he continues to struggle, you try to find somebody else who's swinging the bat. That's all I said. And if it created a stir, I'm sorry."
Of Francoeur, David O'Brien wrote in Tuesday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The erstwhile Braves "Golden Boy" has been mentioned in trade rumors — something inconceivable a year ago when he was on his way to a second consecutive plus-100 RBI season.

He has regressed from 29 homers in his first full season in 2006, to 19 homers last season and nine homers and 49 RBIs through 118 games this season.

Francoeur is struggling to a great degree in two areas where he previously excelled — hitting with runners in scoring position and against left-handers.

After batting .338 with runners in scoring position in 2005, .320 in 2006, and .341 in 2007, Francoeur is worst among Braves regulars with a .186 average with runners in scoring position this season.

According to O'Brien, Blanco will man rightfield in the opener of Wednesday's day/night doubleheader, and Francoeur, who was actually demoted to the Braves' Double-A Mississippi team for a weekend last month, will start in the nightcap.


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