Newest Brave gets shot at former team

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ATLANTA --- Ryan Church knew he wouldn't have to wait long for his reunion with his former Mets teammates when he left New York last week.

Church said he told manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya, "Now I get to beat up on you next week."

Church was traded from the Mets to the Atlanta Braves for another right fielder, Jeff Francoeur, on Friday. Church will play his first home game with the Braves and Francoeur will return to Atlanta tonight when the Mets and Braves open a four-game series.

The Braves (43-45) are in third place in the NL East, six games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies and one-half game ahead of the Mets (42-45).

Braves general manager Frank Wren said the trade was completed only about two days after Minaya introduced the idea.

"He brought it up originally as to if we would have interest in something like this," Wren said of Minaya. "We talked about it internally and our scouts and baseball people and also our major league staff and manager, we all looked at it and thought it would be best for our club."

Church, 30, was hitting .280 with two home runs and 22 RBI for the Mets. He hit .272 with 15 homers and 70 RBI in 2007 with Washington and had a strong start last season with the Mets, hitting .311 with nine homers in his first 42 games.

But Church, who suffered a concussion during his 2008 spring training, sustained a second concussion while sliding into Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar's head during a May 20 game last season.

In 115 games with the Mets after the second concussion, Church hit only .265 with five homers.

Wren said the Braves were satisfied Church has recovered from the concussions.

"It's standard procedure when making a deal of this type to have your medical people talk and sign off on the health of each player, and so we did that," Wren said.

Church also said he is fully recovered.

Before his recent decline, Francoeur was a leader of the Braves' youth movement that also includes catcher Brian McCann, his longtime friend.

Francoeur hit 29 homers and drove in 103 runs in 2006, his first full season in Atlanta, and hit .293 with 105 RBI in 2007.

Since 2007, Francoeur's power numbers fell with his batting average. He hit only .239 with 11 homers last season. He was hitting only .250 with five homers and 35 RBI at the time of the trade.

Francoeur is 4 for 9 in his first two games with the Mets.


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