MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are recommending winter ball for Juan Francisco as an opportunity to implement some changes at the plate and continue working defensively at first base, a position he manned this season for the first time in the Major Leagues.
Francisco plays for Licey in the Dominican Winter League. The idea is for him to play first and third base.
"We talked about it a couple of weeks ago and he asked me again a couple of days ago. I think he needs to go play," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Brewers hitting coach Johnny Narron has some adjustments in mind for Francisco, whose playing time has diminished lately as he entered Sunday in a 7-for-51, 27-strikeout slump. The Brewers are intrigued by Francisco's power (18 home runs in his first 285 at-bats this season for the Braves and Brewers) and still consider the 26-year-old one of the options to man first base next season.
"It's very difficult to ask a guy who comes over to you in a season to say, 'Hey, this is what you need to do,'" Roenicke said. "Because he is trying to make an impression on us, he wants, obviously, a job with us next year -- a starting job if it can be. And to make him change and all of a sudden he doesn't perform well and then you don't keep him, that gets a little difficult."
Compounding that difficulty is the fact Francisco will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and will be paid based on his statistics relative to peers.
"If it's your guys that you've had, and you know that you're bringing them back next year, they know that you're bringing them back, it's different," Roenicke said. "You can ask a guy to do some things. That's the thing we've been caught with this year, is what's fair to him? Is it fair to have him change, and if he doesn't succeed, then we don't bring him back? I don't know, I've always had trouble with that."