Mets' Francoeur defends his manager

Updated: April 18, 2010, 8:05 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

ST. LOUIS -- Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur went to bat for manager Jerry Manuel on Saturday, insisting the team is unified behind him.

"We're 10 games into the season. We've lost a lot of close games," Francoeur said. "We're behind Jerry 110 percent. Are you always going to agree with everything a manager does? No. Nobody does. At the same time, he's our manager. He's a guy that has fought for us, stuck up for us through a tough offseason, through this time. We're here for him at this point to stick behind him because he's the guy we want leading us out there."

Francoeur had been candid earlier in the week in suggesting he thought Jose Reyes ought to stay in the leadoff spot rather than get moved to third, as Manuel plans.

Regardless, Francoeur said: "I'm never going to question what Jerry does. You can question everything in a game -- whatever anybody does. On the other side, [Cardinals manager] Tony [La Russa] pinch-hit different guys. You could have questioned that. It worked out for him.

"Whether it's Jose batting third or whatever, we'll do whatever we have to do to win ballgames. If it's him batting leadoff, third, we don't really care. It's up to Jerry. He's the manager."

Francoeur had credited Manuel for working with him individually during spring training with his plate discipline. That's translated into the right fielder opening the season with a 10-game hitting streak.

"Jerry has helped me more than I could ever imagine," Francoeur said. "He's given me a second chance to get back to where I want to be."

Francoeur approached Manuel to ensure the manager knew he was supported in the clubhouse.

"I appreciate being defended, but I don't think it's necessary. I really don't," Manuel said. "If we're playing hard, we get a chance to win every day. That's what you hope for. I'm not looking to be a player's manager or anything like. I'm just looking to do as good a job as I can."

Manuel said he never mistook Francoeur saying he wanted Reyes to remain a leadoff hitter as anything more than a harmless opinion.

"I know 'Frenchy' has never managed," Manuel said about Francoeur with a hearty laugh. "You're 25, 26 -- I mean, c'mon. He's a guy that's very likable, very talkative."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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