From the Dept. of Unexpected News, there's this from Jupiter:
- Last summer, after Jeff Francoeur was acquired from the Braves, Mets manager Jerry Manuel asked him to try to steal more bases. Francoeur, though, couldn't quite handle that."Jerry wanted me to," Francoeur said yesterday, "but I just don't know how."
Francoeur says he never learned how to steal bases with the Braves, explaining that it wasn't part of Atlanta's offensive philosophy. But it is part of Manuel's plans. So this spring he's told Francoeur he wants him to run more, and now the Mets right fielder is trying to learn how.
Francoeur has only stolen 15 bases in his five-year career -- and he only has 30 major-league attempts. He also never has swiped more than six bags in a season. But Manuel believes it's essential for the Mets to be baserunning threats since they play their home games at Citi Field, which isn't hitter-friendly.
Of all the things ... A few years ago, Francoeur did steal 13 bases in 84 Double-A games. A couple of years before that, he hit nine triples in the Sally League. Francoeur gets around pretty well in the outfield. He's not Bengie Molina.
He's not Vince Coleman, either. Typically, stealing bases is like fielding (but not hitting): if you can do it, you can do it when you're young and first reach the majors. And if you can't do it when you arrive, you probably never will.
There's nothing particularly wrong with wanting to steal more bases. It's actually a little endearing, to see a 26-year-old major leaguer so intent on stealing an extra five or 10 bags this season.
But there are only 744 hours in March. As Pinto points out, if there are some extra hours in there, they might be better spent trying to learn the strike zone.