Veteran major league outfielder Jeff Francoeur signed a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres on March 25 and is attempting a big league comeback as a pitcher.
A career .263 hitter in parts of nine major league seasons, the veteran posted four consecutive scoreless outings for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas to begin his professional pitching career.
Francoeur allowed his first runs in his fifth outing on Friday night, giving up a three-run home run. His updated stat line -- five appearances, 4.1 innings pitched, four hits, three earned runs, four strikeouts, no walks -- isn't bad for someone who has never pitched in his professional career that started 13 years ago.
Francoeur has always been known for a rocket arm in the outfield; his 119 career outfield assists rank second among active players. His power translates to the mound with an over-the-top, aggressive style of pitching.
In recent seasons, many high-profile position players have revitalized their careers as pitchers. Oakland Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle made the switch from first base to pitcher in 2011. Since then, Doolittle has shined with a career 3.17 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.6 K/9 in 136.1 regular season innings. Elsewhere, current Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was converted from catcher to pitcher in 2009. Jansen now has 74 career saves and sports a career 2.28 ERA in 241 major league innings.
Last season, Francoeur hit .194 with no home runs and four RBI in 22 games after joining the San Francisco Giants in July.
He's always had the arm and athleticism -- Francoeur abandoned a scholarship to play football at Clemson to sign his professional baseball contract -- but only time will tell if this new career path brings him back to the bigs.