NEW YORK (AP) – Julio Franco may have finally run out of at-bats.
The New York Mets cut the 48-year-old utilityman Thursday, opting to give 22-year-old outfielder Lastings Milledge another chance in the majors.
The NL East leaders announced the move before starting the second half with a game against Cincinnati.
Franco hit only .200 in 50 at-bats with one home run and eight RBIs. Mostly a pinch-hitter, he also played a bit at first base and third base this season.
Popular in the clubhouse, Franco often acted as a coach, motivating both veterans and younger players. There has been speculation he might eventually have that role full-time; this week, the Mets hired Rickey Henderson as a coach.
The Mets designated Franco for assignment, meaning they have 10 days to trade him, release him or send him to the minors.
Franco was a three-time All-Star and won the 1991 AL batting title with Texas. He has 2,576 career hits, along with 173 homers and 1,186 RBIs.
Last year, Franco contributed several key hits for the Mets while batting .273 with two homers and 26 RBIs in 165 at-bats. His bat seemed to slow considerably this year, but on May 4 he homered off Arizona’s Randy Johnson – Franco is the oldest player in major league history to homer
Franco already had played three seasons in the majors when Milledge was born in 1985.
Milledge was the Mets’ top prospect when he made his major league debut in May 2006. In his first month, he showed off the considerable talent that made him such a highly coveted player, but also made his share of missteps on and off the field.
He was reprimanded for not running hard on the bases and also arrived late to the clubhouse for a game. Near the end of the season, a sign was posted in his locker at Washington – “Know your place, rook. Your teammates,” it said.
Milledge is 0-for-3 with the Mets this season. He rankled team management for making a rap CD that used foul and offensive language.
Milledge was at Triple-A New Orleans this year when he injured his right foot. He recently has been playing at Double-A Binghamton.