Sports Outside the Beltway

Braves Re-Sign Franco, Ship to Single A

The Braves have re-signed veteran Julio Franco but will stash him at the A-level in their farm until the September call-ups.

If the Braves qualify for the postseason, there is a good chance they will have Julio Franco on the roster when they get there.

The 48-year-old first baseman cleared waivers and accepted a minor league assignment with Class A Rome, with an agreement the Braves would bring him back to the majors by Sept. 1. That’s when rosters can be expanded for the season’s final month.

That would qualify him for the postseason roster. And Franco’s experience, defense, and pinch-hitting ability would seem to make him a more likely playoff roster choice than rookie Scott Thorman.

“He deserves it,” manager Bobby Cox said of Franco, the oldest player in the majors — he’ll turn 49 on Aug. 23 — and a popular team member in two stints with the Braves. “I mean, he hit the ball like crazy with us.”

Franco signed with the Braves on July 18 after being released by the New York Mets. He hit .250 with three doubles and seven RBIs in 11 games with Atlanta before being designated for assignment one day after the Braves acquired star first baseman Mark Teixeira from Texas in a July 31 trade.

Franco hit .333 (8-for-24) with three doubles and five RBIs in his last seven games before being dropped by the Braves, who figured he was more likely to get through waivers unclaimed than Thorman.


The plan is for Franco to report later this week to Rome and play at least a few games a week in August to stay in shape before returning to the major league roster. Cox said Franco might also play some for Class A Myrtle Beach, if he decides to take his family to the coast for a few days. “If he just plays three or four games every eight games, that’s plenty,” Cox said. “We just want him to stay in shape.”

It’s rather odd for a guy you want on your playoff roster to be facing the worst pro pitching, but I guess when you’ve played as long as Franco, it’s just a matter of not losing your physical conditioning.

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