From Clearwater, news that Charlie Manuel is working with Jeff Francoeur. What are they working on?
The Phillies coaching staff wants Francoeur to cut down on his swing. Manuel told him that he looked as if he “wanted to hit the ball so bad” that he would often get himself in trouble by swinging at a bad pitch.
“That’s where that football mentality sometimes can hurt me,” said Francoeur, who was a high school football star. “Being able to tone that down starts in the cage. If you’re swinging 80, 85 percent in the cage, that keeps carrying over. When you get to the game, it will take over and go.”
This is now year 11, I think, of Francoeur talking about cutting down on his swing and being more selective. He always talks about it as if it’s just a matter of a slight mental adjustment, but it has never, ever taken. He could have 30 or 40 more spring trainings and give 30 or 40 more interviews about how he’s going to change his approach and it will make no difference. He is what he is. You could sooner expect water to cease being wet than you can expect Frenchy to stop swinging himself out of his sneakers if a ball is within a mile of the strike zone.
Which, on some messed up level, is kind of beautiful. It’s a testament to perseverance and focus. Of a sort. To thine own self be true, Jeff.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.