Francoeur set to spark Rangers vs. lefty Price
Texas acquired righty bat in August for this type of occasion
ST. PETERSBURG -- It usually takes several days for a player involved in a trade to get acclimated and accepted by his new teammates.
But Rangers outfielder Jeff Francoeur was an exception.
"Jeff came to our team [from the Mets] when we were in Kansas City," second baseman Ian Kinsler said, "and it might have taken him about 10 minutes to fit in, to feel comfortable, and for guys to feel like he's part of the team. It was pretty crazy."
The craziness that has been the American League Division Series between the Rangers and Rays concludes Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Francoeur, who went 1-for-4, drove in a run and scored a run in Texas' 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay ace David Price in Game 1, makes his first appearance since, starting in right field in Game 5.
The Rangers' offense, which has been in a collective funk since Game 2 of the series, needs a shot in the arm, and perhaps Francoeur can provide it.
The right fielder has previous playoff experience, making him less prone than others to have jitter-overload in a winner-take-all game like the one to be played Tuesday night.
"I can't wait," Francouer said Monday. "The moment we lost Game 4, my mind was preparing for tomorrow night. I love playing in these types of games. The reason I came over here was to be able to hit left-handed guys -- guys like David Price."
The excitement in his voice jumped out like one of Price's 96-mph fastballs.
"He keeps everyone alive and he has a live bat," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, "and I'll get a chance to put that bat in the lineup tomorrow night. Hopefully Price can throw a ball in the wrong spot, and he can help us put some runs on the board."
With ace left-handers Cliff Lee and Price pitching, runs could be at a premium.
Wearing a red, white and blue "Dirt Balls" T-shirt on Monday, Francoeur was his usual upbeat self during a 10-minute question-and-answer session with the media.
He described the Rangers, who were unable to end the ALDS at home after winning the first two games on the road, as "pretty loose" and prepared for what awaits them in the series finale.
"We're obviously disappointed that we couldn't [clinch] in front of our home crowd," Francoeur said. "We didn't want to come back here. When we left [on Thursday], we told every single clubby in there [visiting clubhouse], 'We're hoping not to see you,' and now, of course, we see them.
"You can kind of sit there and be mad and devastated, or you can say we're going to come here [and win Game 5]. So far, neither team has won a home game, so if that's any sign, we're in good shape."
The Rangers acquired Francoeur from the Mets on Aug. 31 in exchange for infielder Joaquin Arias. The deal was finalized in time for Francoeur to be eligible for the postseason.
Francoeur batted .340 (18-for-53) with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 15 games for the Rangers during the regular season.
"He has been a great acquisition," Washington said. "He can play all outfield positions, although I haven't played him in center field. He brings a lot, and he's a right-handed bat that we needed."
A right-handed bat the Rangers needed against left-handers like Price.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.