Bonifacio-Frenchy battle may go down to wire

Veterans seeking Braves' fourth outfielder role

Bonifacio-Frenchy battle may go down to wire

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Emilio Bonifacio and Jeff Francoeur continued to compete for the 25th spot on the Braves' Opening Day roster on Monday at McKechnie Field, with Francoeur generating the greater offensive numbers in Atlanta's 7-3 victory over the Pirates.

While Bonifacio went 1-for-6 with a single and three strikeouts, Francoeur stroked a pair of singles and drew a walk in four trips with one strikeout, scoring two runs and driving in another.

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The switch-hitting Bonifacio is batting .279 in 49 at-bats with one home run and five RBIs, while the right-handed-hitting Francoeur is at .324 in 40 at-bats with one home run and four RBIs.

"Boni's a switch-hitter and Francoeur is a right-handed hitter, and we're looking for a right-handed guy that can play center field and spell [starter Ender] Inciarte against a lefty and give us that option," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Bonifacio is signed to a one-year, $1.25 million contract, while Francoeur is a non-roster invitee with a Minor League deal. Contract status is one of many factors the Braves need to consider.

Bonifacio's RBI groundout

"There's so many variables that you're thinking about," said Gonzalez.  

"Boni offers flexibility, he can play multiple positions in the infield, he's got the speed factor and he's a switch-hitter, while Frenchy is a guy that scares the opponent when he comes to the plate because he can hit a home run, so there's a lot of variables to that last spot that we're going to have to sit and talk it over."

And given the details of the job for which Bonifacio and Francoeur are competing, it should come as no surprise that Gonzalez has a specific game plan in place to ensure a fair and proper audition.

"I'm going to try to get them as many at-bats as I can against left-handed pitching, because that's what they're going to be facing most of the time, and we'll see where it goes," said Gonzalez.

Sounds like a down-to-the wire competition.

"I believe so, yes," said the skipper.

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.