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Jeff Francoeur autographed jersey hangs by thread in Kansas City area grocery store

Big League Stew

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(Big League Stew, AP)

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — If you happen to be near Kansas City and want some All-Star gear commemorating the upcoming game at Kauffman Stadium, the Hy-Vee grocery store at Langsford Landing has what you want. T-shirts, caps, most of everything.

Near the back of the store, by the toilet paper, liquor and dairy — three of the essentials in life — hangs a Jeff Francoeur jersey, autographed by No. 21 for the Kansas City Royals himself. The jersey appears to be the center of a display to sell beer, but it's far removed from the All-Star stuff. It's on a plastic hanger suspended from the ceiling by a wire, and spins at the whim of the building's air conditioning.

The same can be said for Francoeur's baseball career. Just when you think it's headed one way, it retreats in the other direction.

As a human being, Francoeur is having a great season. He has continued to make friends with the home fans and the opposing fans in the Oakland Coliseum. He also made the day (and perhaps the year) of a young fan with autism in Houston. If they had an All-Star game for stuff like that, he'd be going.

As a baseball player, however, Francoeur has done better. After finishing 2011 with some of the best totals of his career, Frenchy is struggling at the plate again with a  .264/.302/.398 line. He hit great in May after a dreadful start, but he's back to dreadful in June. He is signed through next season, but there's talk of a trade. It would be his fifth team in eight seasons. For a guy who made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a rookie (they called him "The Natural"), he's had an unnaturally cruel career of ups and downs.

Maybe if the person inside the jersey were hitting better, the Francoeur jersey at the Hy-Vee on Langsford Landing would have All-Star placement.

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