Francoeur recalled, felt 'betrayed' after demotion

ATLANTA -- Jeff Francoeur's stay in the minor leagues barely lasted a weekend.

Francoeur, who had four hits in his third game with Double-A Mississippi on Sunday, was recalled to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.

Under normal circumstances, Francoeur would have had to spend 10 days in the minors. The four-year veteran, who was 7-for-13 during his three-game stint in the minors, would have been in the starting lineup against the Dodgers but was unable to get on an earlier flight.

The recall came after Francoeur, who played in three games at Mississippi, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he felt "betrayed" by the Double-A assignment.

"After three years, after playing hurt, playing every day, going in every day whether I got a hit and never complaining, I just played because Bobby [Cox] kept putting me in the lineup," Francoeur told the newspaper. "But I just felt like a little three-minute thing -- 'Hey, you're going down' -- I feel like after three years, I was owed a little more of an explanation. But that's Frank's deal and that's what I guess they decided to do.

"My question is, what if I had hit a home run or had two hits [Thursday night]? Does it delay it one day, until I was 0-for-4? I was left standing outside in the dark on that. You almost felt like they had made [their minds] up before the game. That's where I felt frustrated, where I felt a little betrayed," he told the newspaper.

The timing of Francoeur's four-hit game on Sunday was perfect for the Braves, who could recall the outfielder so quickly because they placed three other players on the disabled list -- relief pitchers Jeff Bennett and Manny Acosta and infielder Omar Infante.

Infante, primarily an infielder, started in left field on Sunday but left with a strained hamstring following his first-inning double.

A player can be recalled after spending less than 10 days in the minors if replacing an injured player.

"Yes, the three guys going on the DL made it possible, but it really was Jeff's performance down there that made this happen," said Braves general manager Frank Wren. "Jeff's performance made it something we could consider."

Added Wren: "It wasn't for need. We didn't lose an outfielder. We lost two pitchers and Omar Infante, who plays all over."

The Braves wanted to recall Francoeur on a high note. They seized the opportunity provided by his 4-for-5 game on Sunday.

The Braves believe Francoeur, from the Atlanta area, has placed added pressure on himself to perform well in his hometown. He would have caused a media stir if he returned to the team in Atlanta.

Francoeur was hitting only .234 when he was optioned to Mississippi on Friday. He was booed by Braves fans on Thursday night when he went 0-for-4, leaving him 1-for-12 in July. He hit only .206 in June.

Francoeur hit .293 with 19 homers and 105 RBIs last season, his second straight season with more than 100 RBIs. He also won his first Gold Glove in right field.

Francoeur has eight homers and 41 RBIs this year.

Wren hopes the short stay in the minors was enough to boost Francoeur's confidence.

"We're very happy," Wren said. "What I said on Friday was we hoped it wouldn't be too long.

"We told Jeff [on Thursday] night this could be a few days or it could be up to 20 days, just whatever it took for him to decompress and relax. We believe that has happened. We just said, 'Relax and have fun again.' Jeff was feeling good about things and relaxed and swinging the bat," he said.

Bennett hurt his right arm throwing to first on Saturday. Acosta, the sixth of seven pitchers in Sunday's 7-6 victory over Houston in 17 innings, strained his hamstring as he ran out a sacrifice bunt in the 16th.

The Braves have not had a full healthy outfield most of the season. Left fielder Matt Diaz has been on the DL since May 28 with a knee injury. Center fielder Mark Kotsay returned last week after missing 33 games since May 26 with a lower back strain.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.