Your annual “Jeff Francoeur is working on his plate discipline” story

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There has not been one offseason — literally, not one — since Jeff Francoeur broke into the majors when there hasn’t been a story in which he’s been reported to be working on pitch-recognition, plate patience and jacking up his on-base percentage.  Here’s last year’s. Not too long ago someone gathered links to all of them going back to the fall of 2005, but I can’t seem to find them, but believe me, they’re out there. UPDATE: here it is!

I was concerned that we weren’t going to get one this year, but lo and behold, here it is:

Working with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, he’s also trying to be better at selecting pitches to attack and alter his reputation as a free swinger.

“It’s going to cut down on his strikeouts, it’s going to put him in better hitting counts,” Seitzer said.

I can’t think of a single player with a track record like Francoeur’s — a hot month or two at some point in his career, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of mediocre to sub-mediocre at bats — who is nonetheless spoken of as though he was an adjustment or two from becoming  a star.  He’s no longer expected to be a savior. He is what he is: a guy who can be effective as a platoon player and who can help you on defense from time to time, but who by no means profiles as a middle of the order bat.

Why don’t these stories get written about, say, Austin Kearns or any other guy who flashed some skills at some point but then did a lot of nothin’ for a long time?  What is it about Frenchy that leads to these stories every year?  It’s baffling, frankly. And you’d think that at some point even Francoeur himself would get tired of them and want to be who and what he is rather than something people wish he was.

Bruce Maxwell is the first MLB player to take a knee during the National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.