By Charles Odum
The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Ryan Church knew he wouldn't have to wait long for his reunion with his former Mets teammates when he left New York last week.
Church said he told manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya, "Now I get to beat up on you next week."
Church was traded from the Mets to the Atlanta Braves for right fielder Jeff Francoeur on Friday. Church will play his first home game with the Braves and Francoeur will return to Atlanta on tonight when the Mets and Braves open a four-game series.
The Braves (43-45) are in third place in the NL East, six games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies and one-half game ahead of the Mets (42-45).
Braves general manager Frank Wren said the trade was completed only about two days after Minaya introduced the idea.
"He brought it up originally as to if we would have interest in something like this," Wren said of Minaya. "We talked about it internally with our scouts and baseball people and also our major league staff and manager, we all looked at it and thought it would be best for our club."
Before his recent decline, Francoeur was a leader of the Braves' youth movement that also includes catcher Brian McCann, his longtime friend.
Francoeur, from Parkview High in the Atlanta area, turned down a football scholarship at Clemson to sign with the Braves and made a fast climb through the minor leagues. He hit 29 homers and drove in 103 runs in 2006, his first full season in Atlanta, and hit .293 with 105 RBIs in 2007.
Since 2007, Francoeur's power numbers fell with his batting average. He hit only .239 with 11 homers last season, including only two homers after the All-Star break. He was hitting only .250 with five homers and 35 RBIs at the time of the trade.
Francoeur is 4-for-9 in his first two games with the Mets, but his .286 on-base percentage is the fifth-worst in the majors among regulars, according to STATS, Inc.
Braves manager Bobby Cox benched Francoeur for three games the week before the trade.
Wren said Francoeur needed the trade.
"We feel like Jeff has worked awfully hard, as well as our staff, to try to make some improvements," Wren said. "It was probably time for a fresh start."
Church, 30, was hitting .280 with two home runs and 22 RBIs for the Mets. He hit .272 with 15 homers and 70 RBIs in 2007 with Washington and had a strong start last season with the Mets, hitting .311 with nine homers in his first 42 games.
But Church, who suffered a concussion in his 2008 spring training, sustained a second concussion while sliding into Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar's head during a May 20 game last season.
In 115 games with the Mets after the second concussion, Church hit only .265 with five homers.
Wren said the Braves were satisfied Church has recovered from the concussions.
"It's standard procedure when making a deal of this type to have your medical people talk and sign off on the health of each player, and so we did that," Wren said.
Church also said he is fully recovered.
After joining the Braves in Denver for two games before the All-Star break, Church insisted he felt "no animosity, no nothing, no bad feelings or hard feelings" about the trade. He also said he enjoyed a good relationship with Manuel.
"Not once did we have a fallout," Church said of Manuel last week, adding "I'll go to war with him any day of the week."
The Mets received $270,218 from the Braves. Francoeur is making $3.375 million; Church's 2009 salary is $2.8 million.
The Francoeur trade is only the latest in a series of changes in the Braves' outfield.
The Braves signed free agent Garret Anderson in the offseason. Rookie Jordan Schafer won the center-field job in spring training. Schafer hit only .204 in 50 games and was sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett on June 2, the day before the Braves traded three players to Pittsburgh for Nate McLouth, the new starter in center field.