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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.