Former Phillie Francisco reunited with team

Former Phillie Francisco reunited with team

Former Phillie Francisco reunited with team
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The call came in the morning during Ben Francisco's workout.

He had been traded again.

"A little surprised, but nothing can surprise you in this game," he said Tuesday morning at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. "You've got to be ready for anything."

The Phillies traded Francisco to the Toronto Blue Jays on Dec. 12 for Minor League left-hander Frank Gailey. They essentially made the move because they had no spot for Francisco at his salary. He made $1.175 million last season, and as the Phillies move closer and closer to the $178 million luxury tax threshold, it made little sense to keep him with Shane Victorino in center field, Hunter Pence in right field and the potential emergence of John Mayberry Jr. in left field, especially with Francisco coming off a disappointing season and due another raise because of salary arbitration.

The Phillies also found cheaper alternatives for reserve outfielders in Laynce Nix, who makes $1.15 million, and Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik, who both signed Minor League contracts.

"He definitely earned [playing time] last year," Francisco said of Mayberry. "One of our best hitters. He earned the right to play. I'm excited for him. He's one of my friends, and he's going to help them a lot. The more he played, the better he did last year."

Francisco finds himself in a similar role in Toronto, where he is expected to be the team's fifth outfielder. He went 0-for-1 in the Blue Jays' 7-0 loss to the Phillies on Tuesday.

Francisco, who makes $1.5375 million this season, came to the Phillies in the July 2009 trade that brought Cliff Lee to Philadelphia. He left the organization with two great memories: playing in the 2009 World Series and his game-winning pinch-hit home run in Game 3 of the 2011 National League Division Series.

"I still get asked about it," Francisco said. "People talk about it. It was a big moment, and a lot of people were watching. Every time I see somebody I hadn't seen in a while, they always talk about it. It was exciting. It just [stinks] we didn't finish it off. But it was a big moment in my career."