Bisons’ Francisco: Huh?

Note to self: Do not ask minor-league baseball players if they’re excited about stagnation.
On Wednesday, I stopped by Bisons practice and chatted with Ben Francisco fresh off some swings in the cages beneath Dunn Tire Park. My first question to the reigning International League batting champ was a natch, right?
“Excited about defending your crown?”
Silence. A long stare. Then, give Francisco major points for staying composed and finally turning to me and responding, “Ummm … the day they told me I was coming back here was a very difficult day.”
Good point, Ben. Here’s the dilemma as an up-and-comer, is it better to play instantly (short-term happiness) in the big leagues or eventually break into a lineup where September games mean something?
If Francisco was a Marlin or Royal, he’d have been in the lineup on Opening Day. Instead, he was sent back to Triple-A Buffalo — the Indians have depth in the outfield with veteran David Dellucci backing up Jason Michaels and Franklin Gutierrez. Course, the Indians might be playing for a pennant, so if he does get back to the bigs, it’ll be meaningful.
When I left the park, I immediately called the office to tell baseball nut Nate Beutel about my rookie mistake. He laughed and explained that Channel 7’s Shawn Stepner asked the same question the day before, eliciting a similar response. I’m sure our buddy Stepner had nicer threads while doing it, though.
For more on the interview, check out our revamped baseball page on Sunday.
BTW, the Bisons beat Norfolk, 9-4, in their season-opener. My favorite part is that any series with Norfolk gives me reason to read the Virginian-Pilot, my favorite newspaper. Here’s a video the paper shot on the opening of the stadium.

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