KANSAS CITY -- Even though Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur will miss having Melky Cabrera next to him in center field next season, he feels the addition of pitcher Jonathan Sanchez is a plus.
"I like it," Francoeur said. "I didn't want Melky to go, obviously, but at the same time you know where we struggled some last year, and if you get a guy like Sanchez and he can cut his walks just a little bit, and the way he attacks with his slider and throwing 95 (mph), he can do some good things."
Sanchez was obtained for Kansas City's starting rotation, along with Minor League lefty Ryan Verdugo, in a trade that sent Cabrera to the Giants on Nov. 7.
Francoeur, in his National League days, couldn't hit Sanchez if he swung a 2-by-4 or even a 2-by-8.
"I did not do very well, I think I was 2-for-18 off him," Francoeur said.
Perhaps the painful memory caused him to exaggerate a bit. It was just 2-for-16 (.125), with six strikeouts and not a single walk from the often off-target left-hander. And Frenchy is a right-handed hitter who usually feasts on lefties (.299 in his career). Of course, he faced Sanchez in his wild-swinging days before he took the pledge last year.
"That shows you -- I hit left-handers good, and to see that, I'm glad that he's on our team," Francoeur said. "Now the only thing is I'll probably have to face him in Spring Training in a couple of intrasquad games. I'll probably just go up there and keep my bat on my shoulder."
The departure of Cabrera breaks up the terrific trio he formed with Francoeur and left fielder Alex Gordon for one stellar season in 2011.
"He had a great year, a great teammate. You don't come up with 201 hits real easy," Francoeur said. "But, for us, I think we realized we needed that pitching more than we needed that offense. Melky understood. He had a great year and he's going to go out to San Fran and do good for them. I thought it was a good trade, because they need offense and we need pitching and we each had a guy that we could do that with."
Cabrera's spot in center has been ceded to Lorenzo Cain, up from Triple-A Omaha.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him out there. Hopefully, he's working his butt off and realizes that now he's got an opportunity and can make the most of it and run with it," Francoeur said.
As the season wound down for the Royals this year, the turnstile counts at Kauffman Stadium clicked up. Normally, with a team near the bottom of the standings and school in session, crowds drop. But the Royals' home attendance in September averaged 26,532 a game, compared to the overall average of 21,289. The September gate was up 39 percent over 2010 and 57 percent over 2009.
That's seen as a sign that Kansas City is getting revved up by an aggressive young team and is looking forward to 2012.
"I think a lot of people are really excited about next year, and that's a good thing," Francoeur said. "I think our bullpen is really going to be stout, and now getting Sanchez, and we'll see what happens with Bruce (Chen), we've got a chance to have a pretty decent rotation -- it should be good."
Chen, the club's top winner last year, is on the free-agent market, but the Royals are interested.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.