Franklin: “They’re supposed to be the best fans in baseball”

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Veteran reliever Ryan Franklin has allowed a whopping seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings so far this season. He has blown four saves in five chances and has surrendered four home runs.

The guy has made mistake after mistake on the mound and has been mercifully stripped of closing duties. But his biggest flub yet came Wednesday inside the Busch Stadium clubhouse.

Franklin told B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest that he was thrown off by the boos he heard on Wednesday after allowing an eighth-inning 417-foot homer to Nationals outfielder Laynce Nix and a subsequent walk to catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

It was supposed to be a low-pressure relief appearance designed to help Franklin rebuild his confidence, but he didn’t look sharp and the fans at Busch decided to make their feelings known.

“I guess they have short memories too because I think I’ve been pretty good here,” Franklin told Rains. “It doesn’t bother me but it just shows some people’s true colors. You’re either a fan or you’re not.”

The quotes only get more heated as Rains’ column goes on:

“You don’t boo your own team. I don’t care who you are or what you say or just because you spent your money to come here to watch us play that somebody happens to make one bad pitch and give up a homer and you are going to start booing him? I’ve been here for five years and four years I’ve been pretty good.”

And here’s the one that Franklin is going to really regret:

“You should go write stories about the fans booing. They are supposed to be the best fans in baseball. Yeah right.”

Will Leitch said it best in his HBT Daily chat with Craig earlier this week. Cardinals fans are nice. They don’t often boo their own players, and when they do it’s usually the result of a series of bad results. Chris Carpenter isn’t going to hear booing after one or two rough starts. Yadier Molina isn’t going to hear boo birds after an 0-for-20 stretch. But poor showing after poor showing is going to yield negative fan reaction, and that’s a fact in every baseball stadium around the country.

Franklin blew a potential Opening Day victory on March 31 against the Padres, two potential wins out in San Francisco last week, and he blew his fourth save of the season on Sunday when he allowed a walkoff home run to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. If the Cardinals came away with even two of those wins, they would lead the National League Central right now.

Nobody likes to be scolded. Nobody likes having their job performance judged. But Franklin is 38 years old and has been doing this baseball thing his entire life. If he can’t accept that paying customers in St. Louis are voicing their dissatisfaction with the way he’s pitched to this point, it may be time for a career change.

I hear bass fishing is nice.

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UPDATE: Matthew Leach of MLB.com passes along a statment from Franklin. He’s apologizing:

“Obviously these last 2 1/2 weeks have been frustrating for me, and I’m frustrated with myself. I can understand why the fans are frustrated. I’ve loved my time here in St. Louis. It’s my favorite place to play. It’s just a frustrating time for me right now, because I feel like I’m letting everyone down.”

There’s more. Head over to Leach’s blog for the goods.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.