Rarely is the question asked: is our Jeff Francoeur learning?

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Less than a year ago, Jeff Francoeur famously said “If on-base percentage is so important, then why don’t they put it up on the scoreboard?”  Never mind that OBP had long been on the scoreboard in Atlanta.

As evidenced by that quote, my problem with Jeff Francoeur wasn’t so much that he never seemed to be able to take a walk. It was that he was ignorantly defensive about the very notion of taking one.  He never wanted to learn plate patience, and the one time the Braves took a hard stand on the matter — sending Frenchie to the minors to work on it — he pouted to the media about it and was called up three days later.

But then I open up my virtual copy of the New York Post this morning and see this:

“One of my big goals is to have better pitch recognition,” said
Francoeur, who hit .311 as a Met. “Sometimes you try to say it doesn’t
bother you to swing at a bad pitch, but it does. I’m human. I want to
get better because I know if I can get better at that the rest of my
game will follow. If I can mix in 50-60 walks, I become a totally
different guy.”

I really, really want that to be a genuine goal for Francoeur. Because despite the fact that he plays for the Mets and despite the fact that he drove me crazy for most of five seasons as a Brave, he could be an absolutely electrifying player if he was somehow able to show even a moderate amount of selectivity at the plate.

(thanks to Steve Nolan for the heads up)

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.