Frenchy now a clutch bat, potential trade target

Frenchy now a clutch bat, potential trade target

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeff Francoeur entered Spring Training simply wanting the opportunity to play in the big leagues again. He enters the final two weeks of July as someone mentioned in trade talks.

It has been quite a turnaround for Francoeur, who hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run in Friday night's 6-3 victory over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Francoeur is hitting .249 with 10 doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 29 RBIs and a .708 OPS in 185 at-bats. His seven homers are third on the team, despite being 10th on the team in plate appearances (196).

He also is 8-for-16 with two doubles, one home run and nine RBIs as a pinch-hitter.

"I think I'm just stupid enough to be able to do it, honestly," Francoeur said about pinch-hitting.

Francoeur on his homer in win

But Francoeur's combination of pop, pinch-hitting prowess, strong arm and clubhouse presence could interest and help a postseason contender. The Pirates have inquired, and other teams looking for a right-handed bat could, too.

"To be honest, I hope it doesn't end in two weeks," Francoeur said. "I like it here. I really do. I would love to come back. That's the front office's job. I'm going to stay away from talking about that."

Francoeur smiled and glanced in the direction of Jonathan Papelbon's locker. Papelbon hasn't been shy lately about asking out of Philadelphia.

"I had a talk with [team president] Pat [Gillick] in San Francisco. I think [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] knows I like it here and this team and this city," Francoeur said. "I like playing in this division. Obviously I get to go home [to Georgia] three times a year [to play the Braves]. You never know what's going to happen with that. I've been through it before and I've not been traded, so you've just got to keep playing hard."

But the fact that Francoeur is answering Trade Deadline questions shows what kind of season he has had. He played just 10 games last season with the Padres, spending most of the year with Triple-A El Paso, which is why the Phillies got him on a Minor League contract in November.

"He's going to have to prove to us and to himself and others that he can be a contributor to this club," Amaro said about Francoeur in Spring Training. "It's hard to tell [what his upside is]. I don't know. I know the people are excited about working with him, and hopefully he feels the same about being with us."

Francoeur made the Opening Day roster and a few days later hit a three-run home run against the Red Sox to give the Phillies their first victory of the season.

"I wanted an opportunity to play some more, man," Francoeur said. "They took a chance on me in camp when I didn't exactly light it up down there in Spring Training. So far it's been good."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.