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MLBeat: The Franco effect
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08/19/2002 1:21 pm ET 
MLBeat: The Franco effect
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com

Matt Franco, left, has a career-high five home runs this season. (Gregory Smith/AP)
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Bobby Cox knows that he's going to pencil Franco in at first base every day. The only decision he has to make is whether to put a "J" or an "M" in front of the surname.

Since Matt Franco was promoted from Triple-A Richmond in late May, he and Julio Franco have established a very successful platoon situation at a position which had lacked stability for almost two seasons.

With Colorado southpaw Mike Hampton on the mound Monday, Cox put the right-handed hitting Julio in the lineup. The decision is usually based on a whether the opposition is using a right- or left-handed pitcher. But on some occasions, Cox has looked at trends when making his choice.

    Julio Franco   /   1B
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 165
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Braves site
"I feel comfortable putting both Francos in there," Cox said. "They've made it easy on me."

After struggling at the beginning of the season while platooning with B.J. Surhoff and Wes Helms, the 43-year-old Julio has regained the same stroke that made him so successful throughout his career which began in 1982. Since June 15, he is hitting .330 (38-for-115).

Not coincidentally, Julio's resurgence came shortly after Matt became a part of the mix in early June. Matt is hitting .379 (44-for-116) with five homers and 20 RBIs as a starter.

The left-handed hitting Franco has credited much of his success to batting in front of Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones. But it's also apparent that he is a much different hitter than the one that spent the entire 2001 season at Triple-A Norfolk in the Mets organization.

"I think I lost my swing the last couple of years," Matt Franco said. "I was trying to hit for power and trying to pull everything."

But during Spring Training this season, the former Met realized that he could slap the ball the other way and find some success. In doing so, he has become a complete hitter. He has already matched his career-high with five homers and is slugging .576.

"I talked to TP (Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton) a lot," Franco said. "I'm just keeping my front shoulder in there and staying on the ball longer. I've found a lot of success by doing that."

Gryboski's blister: While completing his rehab assignment a Single-A Macon on Sunday, Kevin Gryboski developed a blister on his right middle finger. The right-handed reliever believes that higher seams on the minor league balls may have been a factor.

"I'm not too concerned about it," Gryboski said. "I should be all right by tomorrow."

After Monday's game, the Braves activated Gryboski, who had been disabled with a sore right elbow since July 27. Left-handed reliever John Foster, who has allowed six earned runs in his last four innings, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with vertigo to make room for Gryboski.

Foster said he has been feeling dizzy for a few days and will return to Richmond to be undergo further evaluation.

Cautious with DeRosa: Cox continues to be cautious with Mark DeRosa, who was hit on the right hand with a pitch on Aug. 9 in Houston. Since then, DeRosa has seen just three pinch-hit appearances and a brief late-inning stint in right field.

"This is fine," DeRosa said referring to his hand. "I can play today. I wouldn't say it would be without pain. But I can swing."

DeRosa, who grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance on Monday, has been hampered with injuries this season. He was lost for approximately two months with an ankle injury he suffered on May 17 in Colorado.

"I'm frustrated at the weird injuries," DeRosa said. "Two injuries like this in a row, makes it tough to get comfortable at the plate."

DeRosa, who was hitting .345 before the ankle injury, says his ankle is no longer a concern. He believes he could be back in the starting lineup during this week's Padres series.

Fantasy Edge: Vinny Castilla, who is hitting .199 (27-for-136) since the beginning of July, has gone a career-long 183 at-bats without a home run. His last came on June 11 at Minnesota. In addition, he has just one extra-base hit in his last 76 at-bats.

Mark Bowman covers the Braves for MLB.com and can be reached at bowman.mark@worldnet.att.net. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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