8/7/2013 9:52 P.M. ET
Giants give Francoeur rare start in center field
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Francoeur did not stray into uncharted territory when Giants manager Bruce Bochy started him in center field against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Granted, Francoeur started just twice in that spot among the 1,220 Major League games he previously logged. But he played mostly center field -- 176 games out of 267 outfield appearances -- as a Minor Leaguer in the Atlanta Braves system. He also manned that position in high school and college.
Then Francoeur ascended to the Majors in 2005 and moved to right field.
"There was some guy there in center," Francoeur jokingly said, referring to Andruw Jones. All Jones did that year was win his eighth of 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence and finish second in the National League Most Valuable Player Award balloting.
Francoeur received his pair of Major League starts in center last year with Kansas City on June 8-9 at Pittsburgh. He explained that the Royals shuffled their lineup extensively on those days due to the lack of a designated hitter for road Interleague games.
"It went fine," Francoeur said of his return to center. "It was like riding a bike, as far as I'm concerned."
The move likely is not permanent. Giants manager Bruce Bochy simply wants to rest Gregor Blanco, the team's primary center fielder, for two or three days.
Confidence shaken, Blanco to get mental rest
SAN FRANCISCO -- Mired in a colossal batting slump, Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco will receive a rest to clear his mind and spend extra time working on his batting stroke.
Blanco entered Wednesday batting a Major League-low .067 (3-for-45) since the All-Star break. Overall, Blanco's batting .248 in 97 games, including 79 starts.
"His confidence is shaken. It's a hard thing to get out of," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. As an example, Bochy cited a bunt attempt Blanco executed Tuesday night when bunting was not called for.
"That sent a message that he has lost his confidence," Bochy said. "This will give him a chance to catch his breath."
Asked how long Blanco might be rested, Bochy said, "It could be a day, two days or longer."
Brandon Belt was benched under similar circumstances for most of last week's three-game series at Philadelphia. Belt responded by reaching base in 11 of 16 plate appearances when he rejoined the lineup.
Bochy: Belt won't be fazed batting third
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy scoffed at the notion that he might as well place a hex on Brandon Belt by placing him third in the batting order, as was the case Wednesday night.
Belt made his only other career appearance in the No. 3 spot on July 8, when the Giants lost, 4-3, in 16 innings to the New York Mets. He went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.
Bochy said he would agree that batting third might have bothered Belt if he struggled in his first two plate appearances that night. However, Belt hit the ball solidly to center field on each occasion, flying out to the warning track and lining out.
"He smoked the ball. He had great at-bats," Bochy said.
Besides, as Bochy noted, the flow of the game often makes batting-order position irrelevant as innings pass.
"Once you get in the middle of the game, I don't know how you know what hole you're hitting in, really," he said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.