Friday, October 06, 2006
You are what you eat...
The diet-conscious Mr. Franco
Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Sitting in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse last season, first baseman Adam LaRoche was enjoying a candy bar when it was yanked out of his hands.
``You need to go get some tuna or egg whites,'' scolded then-teammate Julio Franco as he threw the treat into the garbage.
Franco, now a 48-year-old pinch hitter with the New York Mets, forsakes all sweets and unhealthy food. He's convinced that his all-natural diet, which includes eating as many as 20 egg whites for breakfast, is helping him toward his goal of being the oldest player ever to appear in Major League Baseball's World Series.
``They say you are what you eat, so you don't want to eat garbage,'' Franco says, confirming the candy incident recounted by LaRoche. ``I stay close to nature. Anything that nature produces, I eat. If nature didn't produce it, to me, it's not worth it.''
``The guy is just really old,'' Mets pitcher Tom Glavine, 40, says with a laugh. ``But he takes tremendous care of himself. Whenever I see him, he's always eating something healthy.''
``Some of the crap he eats is disgusting,'' LaRoche, 26, says.
Franco says it's just a matter of taste.
``If you buy an expensive wine, some people don't like it,'' he says. ``If you buy a $10 bottle of wine, some people love it.''
Franco may not have always had a healthy lifestyle.
``He was very talented and he knew it,'' says Pat Corrales, who managed Franco in Philadelphia and with the Cleveland Indians. ``He was cocky and arrogant.''
Franco led the American League with a .341 batting average in 1991 and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1990 All-Star Game.
While with Cleveland in 1985, Franco didn't show up for a game at Yankee Stadium. He didn't alert the team and later said he was sick and decided to sleep at a friend's house, which didn't have a telephone.
``He was just a young man who liked pretty girls and liked to have a beer every now and then,'' says Corrales, who was the Braves' bench coach the past eight seasons. ``He has settled down and grown to be quite a man. He deserves everything he gets now because he has earned it.''
One thing Franco may not get is a cake on his 50th birthday.
``He won't eat it,'' says Braves General Manager John Schuerholz. ``Not unless it's made of soybeans.''