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Francoeur returns to Atlanta with Mets

By CHARLES ODUM

AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA - Jeff Francoeur's trade to the New York Mets hit home on Thursday when he returned to his Atlanta hometown.

"Now the one team you're never supposed to like, you're on," Francoeur said of the Mets before Thursday night's game against his former Atlanta Braves teammates.

The Braves traded Francoeur to the Mets for Ryan Church on Friday in an exchange of right fielders.

Francoeur started and hit fifth for the Mets in his return to Atlanta. Braves manager Bobby Cox started Matt Diaz instead of Church in right field against Mets left-hander Oliver Perez.

"From talking with Bobby, there's a lot of left-handers in this division, and he did tell me I'm going to be playing against a lot of them," Church said.

"He's not going to get any complaints from me. I'm here to be a piece of the puzzle. I'll show up every day and expect to be in the lineup, and if not come off the bench."

Church's attitude has already impressed Cox.

"He's a gamer," Cox said. "I've heard that and now I see it all over him."

Francoeur said Cox deserves some credit for his 4-for-9 start in his first two games with the Mets. Francoeur said he received some late tips from Cox on Friday morning in Colorado before the trade was announced.

"Bobby helped me make some adjustments," Francoeur said. "We watched some film that morning."

Cox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel talked during batting practice on Thursday.

"We just hope he gets back to the 100 RBI days he had in Atlanta," said Manuel of Francoeur, who was hitting .250 with five homers and 35 RBIs at the time of the trade.

Each player said he is still adjusting to the trade. Church described the last few days as "a whirlwind" as he looked for a new home in Atlanta during the All-Star break.

Francoeur called the trade "surreal" but said he may benefit by playing away from Atlanta.

"I think I'll be able to concentrate a lot more on baseball," said Francoeur, referring to the pressure of trying to satisfy his home i'm really going to miss."