Jeff Francoeur is on the board!

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And Robin Ventura still seems out of his element.

Jeff Francoeur finally hit his first homer Sunday, taking Nate Jones deep in the eighth inning as part of the Royals’ 9-1 win over the White Sox.

The homer came in his 124th at-bat of the season. Francoeur last year hit 20 homers in 601 at-bats.

Francoeur is also without a steal this season after finishing with 22 in 2011.

But that’s about all I have to write about Francoeur at the moment. Let’sdiscuss Robin Ventura’s decision-making with the White Sox down 3-1 in the ninth inning of the contest.

Rookie reliever Addison Reed entered today’s game with a .143 average against this season. However, after a walk and a double to open the ninth, Robin Ventura had Reed intentionally walk Jarrod Dyson to load the bases with no outs. And then, after a run-scoring wild pitch and a strikeout, Ventura had Reed issue another intentional walk, this one to Alex Gordon. Reed, still struggling with his control, went on to hit Billy Butler to force in a run and then gave up an RBI single to Francoeur before being pulled. He ended up being charged with six runs.

If you ask me, this is just another case of Ventura looking overmatched from the dugout. Reed hadn’t allowed a run all season and he appears well on his to establishing himself as one of the league’s top strikeout relievers, yet Ventura kept taking away his margin for error by loading the bases. Reed clearly wasn’t at his best today, so maybe he would have given up those runs regardless. Still, Ventura should have trusted his stuff: Reed was a much better bet to get out of the inning with strikeouts (of which he had 26 in 17 1/3 innings as a major leaguer) than he was with a double play (of which he had zero in 17 1/3 innings as a major leaguer).

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.