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Francoeur a fan of ex-teammate Hanson

Francoeur a fan of Hanson

ATLANTA -- When Tommy Hanson made the first seven starts of his career, Jeff Francoeur served as his right fielder.

While Hanson was limiting the Mets to seven scoreless innings at Turner Field on Tuesday night, Francoeur found himself wishing he would have had the opportunity to be back in that same role for at least one more night.

"That was one of the best performances that I've seen all year," said Francoeur, who went hitless with a strikeout in his three at-bats against Hanson. "When he's on the mound, it's like he knows he's in control."

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With the 23-year-old Hanson, the Braves possess a prized young pitcher that they would obviously like to keep for an extended period. But Francoeur has already seen enough to lightheartedly project that the young hurler will be pitching in the Bronx once he's eligible to gain the fortunes that could await him on the free-agent market.

"I think he's going to look good in [Yankees] pinstripes in six years," Francoeur joked.

Where Hanson lands after he becomes eligible for free agency remains to be seen. But during his first three months in the Majors, the big right-hander has done enough to warrant serious consideration for the National League Rookie of the Year award.

Among all NL rookies who have completed at least 100 innings, Hanson ranks first in ERA (2.65), strikeout-walk ratio (2.38), strikeouts per nine innings (7.70), winning percentage (.769) and opponents' batting average (.224).

Hanson's 10 wins tie him for the lead among NL rookies with Philadelphia's J.A. Happ and Chicago's Randy Wells.

"He's one of those guys who knows how to handle himself and is so respectful to everybody," said Francoeur, who saw Hanson's June 7 Major League debut and then remained his teammate until July 10, when the Braves traded him to the Mets in exchange for Ryan Church.

Once considered to be a cornerstone for the Braves' future, Francoeur has found himself able to relax much easier than he did while playing for the Braves and attempting to live up to the expectations of the legendary status he gained during his mythical high school athletic career in suburban Atlanta.

In 59 games with the Mets, Francoeur has hit .302 with seven homers, 33 RBIs and an .808 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). During his 82 games with the Braves, he hit .250 with five homers, 35 RBIs and a .634 OPS.

"I couldn't have asked to be put in a better situation for myself," Francoeur said. "It's been nice to get back to just playing baseball."

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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