Braves

Proving once again how quickly things can change ...

A year ago, rightfielder Jeff Francoeur was considered a big part of the Braves' future even though he was off to a slow start. Now he's hearing rumors, apparently valid, that he might be traded.

General manager Frank Wren declined to comment on a Yahoo.com report that the Red Sox could be interested. Earlier speculation had targeted Kansas City and Texas as possible destinations.

Going into last night's game at Arizona, the Braves had a total of just seven home runs from their outfielders. So, at some point, they'll be looking to add a big bat.

Mets

Yes, the Amazins' have had a stunning string of injuries that have landed Carlos Delgado, Ryan Church, Jose Reyes, Brian Schneider, Oliver Perez and Joey Cora on the disabled list. And Carlos Beltran is trying to play with a painful knee. Joel Sherman, of the New York Post, isn't too impressed with the available options, though.

"On most days now, you can't tell if they are holding open auditions for the Long Island Ducks [of the independent Atlantic League], seeing if they can make lineups that make everyone think it's mid-March in St. Lucie or are actually trying to win the NL East," he wrote.

Things got so bad earlier this week that manager Jerry Manuel considered having pitchers Mike Pelfrey and Livan Hernandez wear spikes in case he needed them to pinch-hit.

Marlins

Even though the Fish have stumbled since their 11-1 start, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest isn't about to do anything rash.

"It's too long a season," he told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I know we have talent here. Panic, no. Disappointed and concerned, yes. I believe in these guys and we have a long way to go. Things can get better."

After Beinfest made those comments, the Marlins took two out of three from the Phillies.

Nationals

Catcher Jesus Flores, who has been out since taking a foul tip off his right shoulder on May 9, could return to the lineup as early as tonight's series opener against the Phillies.

And that could help Washington's pitching. See, Nats pitchers have a 5.12 earned run average with Flores behind the plate. When Josh Bard is catching it's 5.77 and with Wil Nieves it's 6.46.

"I put a lot of stock into it," acting general manager Mike Rizzo told the Washington Times. "The comfort level a pitcher has with a catcher is not to be underestimated." *