Monday, July 7, 2008
If you follow the Atlanta Braves, or Major League Baseball for that matter, you probably heard that outfielder Jeff Francoeur was sent down to the minors last week to the Double-A Mississippi Braves.
Francoeur has been mired in a brutal slump, and is all out of whack. He has changed his batting stance a couple of times, and had even started growing a beard (often a sign of a player who is in a slump - they refuse to shave until they get out of it).
Over these past few weeks, Francoeur has been taking some poor hacks at pitches nowhere near the strike zone. This is exactly the type of hitter that opposing pitchers love to face. The pitcher has the upper-hand because the hitter has absolutely no confidence. And, worse, the hitter is desperate to get a base knock and hopefully shake the funk off his swing - so he swings at everything!
Seeing that Francoeur's troubles were getting worse by the day, the Braves optioned him to Double-A, where the outfielder last played in 2005, before being called up in August that season. I'm sure he hoped to never go back.
Nonetheless, Francoeur spent a whopping three days in Mississippi, and proceeded to go 7-for-13, including a 4-for-5 performance on Sunday. I heard this afternoon that the Braves have recalled Francoeur, and he will be joining the team in Los Angeles for the beginning of their series with the Dodgers.
Now, I am not a Major League player, coach, or scout. But, I'd bet that Francoeur didn't have to be taught anything he didn't already know in those three days in Mississippi. What he did hear, however, were REMINDERS. He didn't need to hear what he was doing wrong, or how NOT to hit the ball. He needed to be reminded of what made him successful in 2005 and 2006.
The same goes for us when we hit the skids. Too often we attend seminars or hire consultants or even ask friends for sound advice, when what we really need is a reminder. A pat on the back, and some encouraging words, and a brief refresher course is often the panacea that eludes us when we are trying to grind it out on our own.
I am a huge fan of Jeff Francoeur. He gives it his all on the field, but he's an even greater role model for kids looking for someone to show them how to battle adversity. I pray his 3-day sojourn helps him turn his season around, and ignites the Braves offense for the second half.
Now, if they could only be reminded what worked in 1995...