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Francoeur benched for third straight day

Francoeur benched for third straight day

CHICAGO -- As his struggles continued this year, there was growing indication that Jeff Francoeur was spending his final season with the Braves. Now less than a week before the start of the All-Star break, the 25-year-old right fielder has seemingly drawn this same conclusion.

"As a ballplayer, you just want to play and show what you can do," Francoeur said. "Whether that's here or somewhere else, I can't control that."

Francoeur's frustration was enhanced on Monday afternoon, when he arrived at Wrigley Field and learned that he wasn't in the starting lineup for a third straight game. Before Sunday, the only previous time he hadn't been in the Braves lineup for consecutive games was last year, when he experienced a three-day stint in the Minors.

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Coincidentally, Francoeur's return to the Minors last year also occurred over the July 4 holiday weekend.

"I don't make the lineup," Francoeur said. "There's not much more I can say about that because that's just the way it is."

Francoeur started each of the 162 games the Braves played during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Then even while hitting .239 with a .294 on-base percentage last year, he was given the opportunity to start 151 of the 155 games that he played.

But with Matt Diaz and Garret Anderson providing him options, manager Bobby Cox has now chosen to keep Francoeur out of the lineup for six of his team's first 82 games.

Riding a streak that has seen him record 12 hits in a span of 19 at-bats, Diaz started in right field for Monday night's series opener against the Cubs and Anderson, who hit .341 with a .512 slugging percentage in his past 23 games entering Monday, was in left field.

"I'll try to get [Francoeur] back in there tomorrow, we'll see," Cox said.

While hitting .290 with a .333 on-base percentage and .403 slugging percentage during his final 17 games in June, Francoeur felt like he might be finding a groove. But after he recorded just one hit in the first three games of July, Cox looked for options to produce more power at the corner outfield positions.

Over the course of his past 55 games, Francoeur has hit .225 with two homers and a .285 slugging percentage.

With Francoeur already making $3.375 million during his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons, there's definite reason to believe the Braves could non-tender him if they aren't able to trade him before December.

The Royals were willing to trade Jose Guillen for Francoeur. But even with the Royals willing to pick up a majority of Guillen's remaining salary, the Braves weren't interested in welcoming the veteran outfielder into their clubhouse.

"I've got all the confidence in the world in myself and I know that I can play," Francoeur said. "Some things just don't work out the way that you want them to."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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