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.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”