Julio Franco is once again without a team, as the Atlanta Braves cut him to make room on the roster for Octavio Doctel.
Julio Franco was designated for assignment and put on waivers Wednesday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the popular first baseman’s playing career with the Braves is over. If he makes it through waivers without being claimed in 72 hours, the Braves would like the 48-year-old to stay with them either as a player or player-coach in the minor leagues. Franco could then be brought back to the big league team when rosters are expanded in September. But he won’t be playing much first base now that the Braves have Mark Teixeira, the switch-hitting slugger they got in a seven-player trade with Texas on Tuesday.
“We’re hoping he’ll take an assignment in the organization,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who said it was difficult telling Franco the news Wednesday.
Franco was dropped from the roster 13 days after the Braves signed him to a free-agent contract following his release by the New York Mets. “It’s really hard, because he’s doing so well,” Cox said. “He’s been fantastic.” The oldest player in the majors, Franco hit .250 with three doubles and seven RBIs in 11 games for the Braves, including 8-for-24 (.333) with three doubles and five RBIs in his past seven games. “He gave us spark,” Cox said, “not only catching the ball, but hitting. He was a tough out.”
Franco has indicated he would stay with the Braves if not claimed by another team.
The Braves cleared two roster spots for bullpen newcomers Octavio Dotel and Ron Mahay, acquired in trades Tuesday. Reliever Jose Ascanio was optioned to Class AA Mississippi.
One suspects Franco will once again clear waivers, as he did two weeks ago. It’s unlikely he’s an upgrade at first base for most contenders and teams out of the hunt tend not to have a lot of use for 48-year-olds hitting .250.
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