Brewers hope Francisco's new stance pays dividends
ATLANTA -- Juan Francisco, whose extended second-half slump has called into question whether he will fit the Brewers' plan for 2014, debuted a significant change to his hitting approach on Sunday night that manager Ron Roenicke believes will play dividends in the future.
Appearing as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, Francisco eliminated the leg kick that has preceded his swing -- a swing that has produced 134 strikeouts and 18 home runs in 338 at-bats between the Braves and Brewers this season. It was up to Roenicke and Brewers hitting coach Johnny Narron to convince Francisco to make an adjustment.
"Johnny showed him some film of some of these great hitters," Roenicke said. "He showed him [Albert] Pujols and how he goes with that wide stance, doesn't stride. These big guys, if you look at a lot of them, they don't do much. There's hardly any action going on. Look at [Joey] Votto, there's not much going on. David Ortiz, there's not a whole lot going on. He likes [Blue Jays slugger Edwin] Encarnacion because they're friends. Encarnacion has a little leg kick, but it's just up and down real quick.
"A lot of these big, strong guys are really quiet, really simple. I think he should be one of those guys that's able to do that. He's so strong, he's still going to hit balls 500 feet doing that, but he's going to square them up more often."
Who approached whom?
"Well, sometimes you can wait around and wait for the player to come to you, and sometimes you're proactive. We needed to be proactive," Roenicke said. "We had talked at the very beginning about it, and it's not just us. He's got his own teammates telling him the same thing. The guys that he respects and listens to, they're telling him the same thing."
Francisco, acquired from Atlanta in early June and converted from third base to first, has seen his playing time diminish dramatically in recent weeks due to a long slump. Since a two-homer game at Texas on Aug. 14, Francisco went 7-for-59 with one home run, two RBIs and a whopping 30 strikeouts.
The Brewers hope Francisco continues working on the adjustment in the Dominican Winter League. He is committed to play for Licey.
In his pinch-hit at-bat on Sunday night, Francisco grounded out sharply to first base.
"I don't know -- that was a really good at-bat," Roenicke said. "He saw the ball well and he ended up smoking a ball for an out, but he hit it well. I think if he does that, I'm excited about that stance and what I think can happen with that stance."