Braves trade 3B Juan Francisco

Updated: June 3, 2013, 8:19 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Searching for offensive help, the Milwaukee Brewers traded for third baseman Juan Francisco on Monday and promoted second baseman Scooter Gennett from Triple-A Nashville.

Milwaukee sent minor league pitcher Tom Keeling to Atlanta for Francisco, who was designated for assignment on Thursday. Francisco, who had shared time at third base with Chris Johnson, hit .241 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 35 games with the Braves.

With Aramis Ramirez still not 100 percent after spraining his left knee early in the season, Francisco gives the Brewers another option at third and maybe first. He also provides a sorely needed left-handed bat off the bench.

"First base I'm not sure of," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Third base, he's a good defender. First base, he's played there some. But we'll have to see that by getting him out there, where he is. Especially with this ballpark, we've got a couple more left-handers in our lineup with Scooter and him, and I think it balances out the lineup better."

The 25-year-old Keeling was selected in the 18th round in 2010 out of Oklahoma State. He was 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA and one save with Double-A Huntsville this season. The Braves assigned the left-hander to Double-A Mississippi.

Gennett will be in the mix at second, where Rickie Weeks has been mired in a season-long slump. One of the Brewers' top prospects, Gennett hit .297 with eight stolen bases and 13 RBIs for Nashville.

"I can't say that I was satisfied with the way I played but I think I did OK and held my own," Gennett said. "But I can do a lot better."

Roenicke wasn't ready to commit to playing Gennett, also a lefty batter, over Weeks, who started Monday against Oakland left-hander Tommy Milone.

"For right now we'll kind of do it a platoon system, but it won't always be that way -- strictly lefty-righty," Roenicke said. "But in general terms, that's what I'm thinking.

I'm looking forward to seeing him. He's got some energy, which I like, and I think we need. Anytime you bring in guys that have a lot of energy -- a (Jean) Segura-type energy -- I think it's good for your club."

To make room for Francisco and Gennett on the roster, Milwaukee optioned right-hander Mike Fiers to Nashville and released shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

Gonzalez hit .177 in 41 games for the Brewers. Expected to fill a bench role this season, Gonzalez was Milwaukee's opening-day first baseman because of injuries to Corey Hart and Mat Gamel. He moved to third base when Ramirez went down in April.

Limited to just 24 games last season due to a right knee injury, Gonzalez hit .292 during spring training but never got into a groove during the regular season.

"The new position in spring, I think he enjoyed it," Roenicke said. "I don't know what the reasoning is sometimes when guys struggle but Yuni (Betancourt) played well and that left Alex out, which is difficult for a guy who's played every day for his career."

After emerging as a top pitching prospect for Milwaukee last season, Fiers has struggled this year. He was removed from the rotation after just one start -- when he surrendered six runs and nine hits over five innings in a 9-2 loss to Arizona on April 6.

He was optioned to Nashville on April 18 and returned to Milwaukee a month later. But after giving up just two runs over his next five appearances, Fiers had a 14.20 ERA in two starts, including Sunday when he allowed five runs over 1 2-3 innings at Philadelphia.

Gennett was with the Brewers on Monday but not in the starting lineup. Francisco will join the team Tuesday, after traveling from the Dominican Republic.


Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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