Results tagged ‘ Jeff Francis ’

Rockies Apodaca asked to be reassigned, MLB.com has learned

DENVER — Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca has asked to be reassigned and the club granted him the request on Tuesday, MLB.com has learned.

The Rockies have yet to make a formal announcement. Sources with knowledge of the situation said Apodaca, pitching coach since 2003 — the first full year that Clint Hurdle managed the Rockies — made the request. Apodaca, 63, has yet to address the situation.

Apodaca, who remained the Rockies’ pitching coach after Jim Tracy took over during the 2009 season, was in street clothes in the Rockies’ coaching office while bullpen coach Jim Wright oversaw Juan Nicasio facing hitters at Coors Field. Nicasio is coming back from a strained left knee.

The Rockies rank last in baseball with a 5.29 ERA and the team is 28-44. Since last week, the club has gone to an unusual four-man pitching rotation under which starters are limited to 75 pitches. It’s an idea that has been discussed for several years at several points by the front office. Extreme difficulty pitching at home and short, ineffective work by the starters, brought about the implementation of the idea a week ago in Philadelphia.

Results have been mixed. Jeff Francis has had two strong starts in victories, but Alex White has pitched himself to a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Christian Friedrich (who was to start Tuesday night against the Nationals) lost Friday against Texas in his first start under the new system, and Josh Outman couldn’t make it through five innings despite being given an early 10-run lead in the team’s win at Texas on Saturday.

Currently, there are three injured starting pitchers – lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last year; righty Jhoulys Chacin, who struggled before a nerve issue in his chest was discovered, and Nicasio. Additionally, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was the Opening Day starter but he struggled so much in 11 starts (3-6, 7.20 ERA) that he was moved to the bullpen, where he has pitched well in long relief.

In another surprise move, the Rockies apparently have called up star Double-A lefty Edwar Cabrera, who had earned an invitation to the Sirius XM Futures game during All-Star weekend and last year led all of Minor League Baseball with 174 strikeouts. Cabrera is in line to start Wednesday against the Nationals.

Under Apodaca, the Rockies went to the World Series in 2007, had five 10-game winners in 2009 for the first time in club history and set club ERA marks in 2007 (4.32) and 2010 (4.22). The team has struggled on and off trying to find a way to thrive at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Since 2002, the baseballs have been stored in an atmosphere-controlled chamber to keep them from shrinking and becoming slippery in the mile-high atmosphere.

Apodaca previously served as pitching coach with the Mets and the Brewers.

More to come on MLB.com.

O’Dowd says Rockies interested in Francis

The Rockies are pursuing left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis, their ace during their National League championship season of 2007.

“We are interested; I have no idea of the outcome of that interest,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said Monday morning.

Francis, 31, was pitching for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, and was 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 77 1/3 innings over 12 starts. Francis, who struck out 65 against 18 walks, had a June 1 opt-out clause in his Minor League contract. After throwing a complete-game shutout on Sunday, 7-0 over Durham, Francis asked for his release, according to a Twitter dispatch by ESPN.com reporter Jerry Crasnick.

The Rockies made Francis their No. 1 Draft choice out of the University of British Columbia in 2002, and he went 55-50 with them in six Major League season. The highlight was 2007,when he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA. However his career was derailed by shoulder issues, which cost him the entire 2009 season and limited him to 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games, all but one of them starts, in 2010.

The Rockies did not pick up the option on Francis’ contract, and he went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals last season.

Francis has maintained a home in the Denver area.

Injuries are affecting the Rockies’ rotation. Righty Jhoulys Chacin has not pitched since May 1 because of an injury to a chest muscle, and didn’t do any throwing until Saturday. Righty Juan Nicasio suffered a strained right knee on Saturday and is on the 15-day disabled list. Also, the club released lefty Jamie Moyer last week.<p/>

 

The Rockies are stretching out left-hander Josh Outman, who began the year mostly in a specialist relief role, for one spot. They called up right-hander Guillermo Moscoso from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday for another slot.

Cuddyer, Rox continue to talk

The Twitter universe says Michael Cuddyer will reach an agreement with the Rockies by the end of today. From what I’ve been told, the sides continue to negotiate but the end of today my not be feasible. Terms aren’t known, but it could be lucrative: Cuddyer was reported to have a three-year deal for around $25 million from the Twins on the table. I’m reading the Mariners and Reds also have approached Cuddyer, and the Phillies — an early suitor — are involved.

If or when it does happen, don’t be surprised if left-handed hitting Seth Smith isn’t dealt quickly. Such a deal woudl clear a crowded outfield, and it would be the best way for the Rockies to fill other holes, especially pitching. Whatever the Rockies cleared in trading pitcher Huston Street to the Padres and infielder Ian Stewart to the Cubs will be spent on Cuddyer, or another outfielder if the Rockies go in that direction (such as Carlos Beltran).

Smith ranks as the best hope for acquiring a pitcher capable of 200 innings to help the rotation along until Jorge De La Rosa completes his comeback from Tommy John left elbow surgery, which should be sometime around June. Lower-cost options such as Kevin Millwood, Jeff Francis or recently non-tendered Joe Saunders will come into play, also.

As for free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, the chances of such a signing are doubtful considering what the Rockies will spend on the outfielder.

Keep an eye on Rockies pitching, Barmes discussions could occur today

As MLB.com reported last week and as the Denver Post reported last night, the Rockies’ wide-ranging search for an innings-eating starting pitcher, or two, includes standout free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt (4-0, 2.25 ERA in five career starts at Coors Field).

The Post reported that the Rockies won’t trade for the Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez, who want quite a bit in return. But just about any young, accomplished starter is on the radar — the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, and the Rays’ Jeff Neimann and Wade Davis. All have been Rockies targets before. The Rockies are interested in their one-time No. 1 pitcher Jeff Francis and Kevin Millwood, who finished last season in purple pinstripes, as well as, according to the Post, Paul Maholm.

The Rockies are dangling left fielder Seth Smith in trade talks for either a pitcher or a second baseman, or both. That helps explain the pursuit of Grady Sizemore, who is recovering from right knee surgery but, according to his agent, will be ready to start Spring Training and to start the season.

If they don’t make a trade at the keystone position, they could look to the past and pursue Clint Barmes, who played for the Astros last season but had spent all is previous seasons with the Rockies. Barry Meister, Barmes’ agent, will arrive at the MLB General Managers meetings in Milwaukee today. Although there have been internal discussions about Barmes — who is attractive to the Rockies because he can move to shortstop if Troy Tulowitzki needs a break or is banged up — there had not been negotiations as of yesterday. Barmes is receiving interest at a shortstop and a second baseman, and is open to playing each spot.

Potential trade targets are the Braves’ Martin Prado and the Padres’ Orlando Hudson, with the Rockies already having had discussions with the Braves.

In the coming weeks, watch for the Rockies to seriously explore dealing right-handed reliever Huston Street, who is guaranteed $8 million next year. Rafael Betancourt ended up supplanting Street as closer late in the regular season.

Monday’s Spring Training notes

It’s a time for excitement, but also a time for caution

 

Welcome to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Players are raving about the place. Reliever Huston Street told me before he arrived that he expected Monday to be “Christmas in February.” Well, after being there, stretching, tossing a football around, lifting weights, tossing the medicine ball and just walking around, he thought it was something more.

 

“It’s way more than that … I don’t know what this is,” Street said. “This is unbelievable.”

 

 And, no, Valentine’s Day wasn’t an adequate description.

 

Nonetheless, this is a workplace. Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said his biggest challenge is not convincing players to work in the lap of luxury. It’s not letting them overdo it when pitchers and catchers begin official workouts on Tuesday afternoon.

 

Last spring, key relievers Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt suffered shoulder injuries early in camp. Street’s was because, in hoping to reach a new level, he wanted to throw with regular-season intensity from the first day. Betancourt’s injury occurred because he suffered an illness during the offseason and didn’t figure out what his arm was capable of until pain overtook him. Add to that left-handed starter Jeff Francis’ shoulder problems at the end of camp, and last spring was a failure in terms of having pitchers ready for the regular season.

 

That won’t be happening this spring.

 

Apodaca has a message for all his pitchers — one that numerous youth teams and coaches already working for their seasons, with children who don’t yet have facial hair or are getting peach fuzz, need to heed as well.

 

The first time out, and beyond, Rockies pitchers will throw a limited number of fastballs and a few changeups. The fastball is the main pitch they need, anyhow, so why take the risk with breaking stuff?

 

“That’s the first order of business every spring, to repeat the fastball, be comfortable with it,” Apodaca said. “When it goes astray, when I throw a scud, how do I get back to where I want to be?

 

“They can throw some changeups. [Matt] Lindstrom has really been working on his changeup. [Esmil] Rodgers has really been working on his changeup. It’s basically 80 percent fastballs, 20 percent changeups the first couple of times out, we’ll start throwing some breaking pitches. The fourth time, we’re going to bring them back a little bit, because their next time is going to be a batting practice.”

 

Apodaca said he realizes some pitchers have carried a heavier offseason workload than they’ll be asked to perform at the start of camp. But there will be no argument. It’s for the protection of the pitchers.

 

“This is always the most insecure time for me,” Apodaca said.

 

The gang’s almost all here

 

Most of the pitchers and catchers showed up at the complex, played catch and worked in the fitness center. One notably absent hurdler was left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, the No. 2 starter in the rotation. De La Rosa has an offseason home in the Phoenix area, but he went home to Mexico with his family and experienced visa issues trying to make it before Monday.

 

Players from outside the United States routinely experience delays, usually because of the time it takes to process the paperwork.

 

A fond goodbye to the Dominican Republic

 

Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting last year, flew from the Dominican Republic to Phoenix on Friday, but not before leaving (in Spanish) a message to his country on a personal social media site. Here’s a translation:

 

“Goodbye my beloved land and my people, we are going to fight, God willing, with all our strength for the triumphs, we won’t be able to win every single time but sometimes you win by losing, so I hope you follow all of us Dominicans and send us a lot of blessings our way, I always carry my homeland in my heart and in my mind and I hope I can keep on making you feel proud.”

 

‘Tulo’ simply couldn’t wait

 

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been itching to play ever since signing his new, seven-year extension (which last through 2020) not long after last season ended. On Monday, he arranged to meet general manager Dan O’Dowd at the complex at 8 a.m.

By 7 a.m., Tulowitzki texted O’Dowd saying he had eaten breakfast and was already en route to the park.

 

“I was definitely anxious to get here – a new facility,” Tulowitzki said. “I woke up early, had that itch, wanted to get to the field, see all the fields, see the new locker room. Wow. Special facility. I’m glad I’m getting to enjoy it for a long time.”

 

The first full-squad workout is not until next Tuesday.

 

 

Rockies acquire Lindstrom from Astros

The Rockies filled a key spot in their bullpen by acquiring right-hander Matt Lindstrom from the Astros. Full details will come soon.

Lindstrom, who turns 31 on Feb. 11, went 2-5 with a 4.39 ERA for the Astros last season. The Rockies attempted to acquire him in November, when they obtained righty Felipe Paulino from the Astros for second baseman Clint Barmes, but the clubs could not find a match.

Lindstrom is 10-13 with a 4.00 ERA in 249 relief appearances with the Marlins (2007-09) and the Astros (2010). According to media reports, the Astros were looking to deal the arbitration-eligible Lindstrom for payroll-management reasons.

Lindstrom, who has an offseason home in the Denver area, is a strike-thrower — 187 career strikeouts to 91 walks in 225 innings. He also has earned 43 career saves, including 23 for the Astros last season. Lindstrom began last season as the Astros’ closer, but he went to the disabled list with a back issue and never regained consistency. Lindstrom joins Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle as primary right-handed setup men.

A key reason for acquiring Lindstrom is for protection in case right-hander Huston Street is injured. Street missed the first 69 games of last season with a shoulder injury and suffered some setbacks during his rehab. Left-hander Franklin Morales, who is still with the club, struggled when replacing Street. Manuel Corpas, the Rockies’ one-time closer, had some success in the role but was released after the season.

The trade for Lindstrom also pushes the Rockies’ Major League roster to the limit of 40, which means they’ll need to either make all further signings Minor League contracts, or they’ll have to make a move to add someone on a Major League deal. The Rockies have acknowledged that they’re trying to re-sign left-handed starter Jeff Francis, their No. 1 pitcher before shoulder injuries marred his last two seasons, and left-handed reliever Joe Beimel.

 

Rockies still deciding on Olivo

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said he will take until Thursday’s deadline before deciding whether to pick up catcher Miguel Olivo’s $2.5 million option for 2011. Even if he decides, the Rockies still have to determine whether Olivo, Chris Iannetta or a combination of both are solid enough to handle catching duties. Do the Rockies seek a trade or free agency? That’s one of this winter’s big questions.

The Rockies will not pick up left-hander Jeff Francis’ $7 million option for 2011. Three years of shoulder problems makes it too risky, but O’Dowd says he wants Francis back.

It should be an interesting free agency season. The big question is whether the Rockies can retain lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who could have numerous bidders.

 

My thoughts? If the bidders stay in the three-year range, the Rockies can compete. If someone goes overboard on years, the Rockies will wish him well.

Francis headed to disabled list

The Rockies will place starter Jeff Francis on the disabled list due to
left shoulder stiffness after the southpaw could not play catch Friday
following an outing in a Cactus League game on Thursday.

Greg Smith, acquired prior to the 2009 season in the deal that sent Matt Holliday to the Oakland Athletics, will take Francis’ spot in the rotation and start the second game of the regular season on Tuesday in Milwaukee.

Cook finds form against White Sox

Before Sunday, the last Aaron Cook sighting in a Cactus League game featured him getting knocked around by the White Sox on March 16 — six runs and six hits in three innings pitched.

But Cook felt he regained his timing in a Minor League game last Saturday. He returned against the White Sox on Saturday afternoon and held them to one run and six hits in six innings of the Rockies’ 6-2 loss at Hi Corbett Field.

It’s as if the bad game against the Sox — and the bad start to the spring (0-2, 11.42 ERA in three starts) never occurred.

“I hate to say I was just getting my work in [during the first few starts], but that’s what I have to use it as — getting my arm in shape,” Cook said. “Now that I’m getting my timing down, and I’m getting the ball coming out of my hand real well, it’s time to go out there and start getting after it.”

Cook said he likes the order of the rotation. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will open on April 5 in Milwaukee, followed by lefty Jeff Francis and Cook. Lefty Jorge De La Rosa will start the home opener on April 9, followed by righty Jason Hammel.

“We’ve got five completely different pitchers that we’re running out there, so it’s not like we’re running back-to-back sinkerballers or back-to-back lefties,” Cook said.

 

No plan to leave Francis behind

With two days off in the first eight days of the season, an idea was floated to leave left-hander Jeff Francis in Tucson for additional work and back up his first start of the season. That’s not what manager Jim Tracy is thinking, however.

“I want him to be a part of it,” Tracy told reporters on Sunday in Surprise, Ariz., where the Rockies faced the Royals. “Unless he can’t pitch or we see a big deterioration between now and the time we leave for Alburquerque [for exhibition games], Jeff Francis is being looked upon as one of the five sarters in this rotation.”

Francis, who missed last season because of surgery on his throwing shoulder, has been on and off with his effectiveness this spring.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.