While the Phillies were in Phoenix on Wednesday night, Maikel Franco was in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Prior to his game with Triple A affiliate Lehigh Valley, Franco was wearing a shirt with a saying across the front:
"It's all part of it."
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Franco is ready to embrace the next part of his baseball career, which has been a demotion from the Phillies to the minor leagues. The big club optioned Franco to the IronPigs last Sunday in a sudden and somewhat surprising move given the 26-year-old had been the Phillies' starting third baseman for the past four opening days.
"For me, I just want to say I feel great," Franco said Wednesday at Coca-Cola Park, via NBC Sports Philadelphia's Amy Fadool. "I know it's a tough moment for me, but at the end of the day, I'm just trying to come in and try to do everything I can do to feel myself, try to just get better every single day."
Maikel Franco's shirt says a lot: "it's all part of it". I caught up with the 3rd basemen on his demotion. See the interview on the #MyTeams App & tonight on Phillies PreGame Live @NBCSPhilly. He says he's in LV to play as much as he can & knows some things are out of his control pic.twitter.com/qlbfZXlX7j— Amy Fadool Kane (@amyfadoolNBCS) August 7, 2019
Following a torrid start in which he put up six homers, 17 RBIs and 11 walks over his first 16 games, Franco cooled off considerably. Since May 7, he hit .217 with a .273 on-base percentage, eight homers and 22 RBIs in 68 games. With the play of Adam Haseley, the addition of Corey Dickerson and the eventual return of Jay Bruce, the Phillies' outfield has become crowded.
So now the team is ready to make Scott Kingery its everyday third baseman.
"With Maikey, he doesn't play multiple positions. He plays one position and he hasn't really hit left-handed pitching well," manager Gabe Kapler said Sunday (see story). "So we have a left-handed power bat and on-base threat in Brad Miller and we definitely want to have that profile available on our bench, especially when we have a guy like Corey Dickerson and potentially he and Jay Bruce together in the lineup.
"This felt like an appropriate time to make a very difficult move for our clubhouse because we all care deeply about Maikel Franco. He's an exceptional teammate and person and we all love him."
Franco is taking the decision in stride.
"I'm not going to say I feel happy," he said. "I understand the situation, I understand what happened."
If Franco is not viewed as the team's everyday third baseman or a valuable bench piece, does he wonder about his long-term future with the Phillies?
"It's not my decision," Franco said. "At the end of the day, it's not something that I can control. I just try to turn the page.
"For me, I know what I'm capable of doing, I know my talent, I know I have potential.
"You're going to have some struggles, it's going to happen for everybody, it's going to happen for every good player. You're going to have those moments. When those moments come, you have stay positive and forget everything."
Franco's focus will turn to his performance at Lehigh Valley and being ready for when rosters expand in September. Where will the Phillies stand in the playoff race and how will they need Franco? Time will tell.
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