Results tagged ‘ Jeff Francis ’

Francis has bright spots in rough start

Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis’ stat line was rough — six runs, four earned, and six hits in four innings of Saturday’s 11-10 victory over the Angels.

In the second, Francis gave up four doubles in a five-batter stretch. Third baseman Melvin Mora spent that inning diving toward the line at hard-hit balls and coming up with nothing. That as because Francis was missing low with his breaking ball and changeup, and hitters were sitting on a fastball that isn’t sharp yet.

But it wasn’t cause for depression.

Francis struck out Robb Quinlan with the bases loaded and one out in the first. He forced Terry Evans into a grounder to shortstop Clint Barmes; however, second baseman Jonathan Herrera lost Barmes’ potentially inning-ending throw in the glare of the metal bleachers and two runs scored.

After the rough second inning, Francis pitched scoreless ball in the third and fourth. He finished with five strikeouts.

Francis realizes he’s still regaining his sharpness after missing last season because of left shoulder surgery.

“Today wasn’t as good as the last time, but I’ve come a long way since the first time out,” he said. “I keep doing things in between starts to help me.

“I can take those last two innings and look at them and say I battled pretty good with not having everything in my pocket.”

Manager Jim Tracy commended Francis on battling through his inconsistencies.

“There’s a lesson to be learned from this,” Tracy said. “I spoke a lot about this last year. You’re not going to be perfect every time you go out there. Figure something out to try to keep us hanging in there, and keep us in the game.”

Francis has two more Cactus League starts. However, with an early day off in the regular schedule, the Rockies have the option of keeping Francis in Tucson for a little more work before he’s needed in the rotation.

 

LoDuca OK after arm injury; lineups

Non-roster catcher Paul Lo Duca suffered an undetermined arm injury and had to leave Friday’s game against the Athletics, but he said he was OK Saturday morning.

“There was just a knot under my arm,” Lo Duca said. “I don’t know what it is.”

Lo Duca said he was sore, but didn’t expect the problem to linger.

Here is the Rockies’ lineup agianst the Angels:

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Ryan Spilborghs, CF

Jason Giambi, 1B

Miguel Olivo, C

Brad Hawpe, RF

Melvin Mora, 3B

Seth Smith, LF

Clint Barmes, SS

Jeff Francis, LHP

Giambi and Hawpe are getting a coveted chance to see left-handed pitching — the Angels’ Scott Kazmir. The Rockies haven’t faced much of it. Spilborghs is getting a chance to play all three outfield positions this spring. Key relievers scheduled to participate are right-handers Matt Belisle and Justin Speier. Belisle has pitched well this spring, but forearm tightness has limited his appearances. Speier spent the last three seasons with the Angels.

Francis will be tested by an all right-handed lineup (that’s including switch-hitting leadoff man Macier Izturis). Here is the Angels lineup that Francis will face:

Macier Izturis, 2B

Jeff Mathis, C

Juan Rivera, RF

Brandon Wood, 3B

Robb Quinlan, LF

Terry Evans, CF

Freddy Sandoval, 1B

Gary Patchett, SS

Scott Kazmir, LHP

Tracy sees what he needs to see from Francis

Rockies lefty Jeff Francis’ first Cactus League appearance on Friday — his first time in a Major League game in 18 months — wasn’t pretty. Luckily for manager Jim Tracy, he didn’t see it. The Rockies used a split-squad that day, and Tracy went to Tempe, Ariz., while Francis was at Scottsdale, Ariz.

Francis, who struggled in 2008 and missed 2009 because of a shoulder injury that required arthroscopic surgery, gave up four runs in two innings, and struggled because his stride toward home plate was too long.

“The other day in Scottsdale was the first time he’d gone out there competitively in a long time,” Tracy said. “But let him do his thing, then take him back into the laboratory, make some adjustments, re-tune him a little bit, then send him back out there again. This is a brilliant pupil you’re working with.”

But Francis adjusted, and did much better during three scoreless innings at the start of Wednesday’s 5-0 Rockies victory over the Royals at Hi Corbett Field.

One interesting change. Before his first outing, Francis looked good in bullpen work but couldn’t carry that effecvtiveness into the game. This time, his warmup wasn’t a precursor to his game performance.

“I had a horrible bullpen,” Francis said. “I almost hit Dexter [Fowler, the Rockies’ center fielder] in the knee. But how many times do we have a bullpen that’s brutal but it’s there in the game? I struck the first guy out, and it was a confidence-builder.

“I tried to do a lot of work on the mound, even without a ball, just trying to work on my mechanics. I’ll keep doing those things.”

Francis’ struggles against the Giants touched off worry among some Rockies fans, even though he and the club continued to say a lot can improve with game action. There is no concern about his health, and he has every confidence he can eventually approach his 2007 form. That was the year he won 17 games during the regular season and two in the playoffs.

“I always expect to get people out, and I didn’t do that very well lat time,” Francis said. “Obviously, I was looking for an improvement, but there was no panic from me,”

A happy return to the mound

Rockies left-hander Greg Smith’s return to the mound after not pitching in the Majors last season went much better than lefty Jeff Francis’.

Of course, Francis surrendered four runs and four hits in two innings against the Giants on Friday.

Smith made his return Friday against the Angels and threw two scoreless and hitless innings with two strkeouts and three walks. Smith, who has been a starter but could make the team as a reliever, started Friday. Scheduled starter Ubaldo Jimenez elected to drive to Tempe, but was caught in a major traffic jam and interstate closure, the result of an early morning traffic accident.

Francis return not triumphant

Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis, who missed last season because of shoulder surgery, is getting a rude welcome back to the mound from the Giants. After a scoreless first inning, he gave up a single to Bengie Molina, walked John Bowker (Francis’ second walk of the game) and served up a three-run homer to left to Juan Uribe, which was close to clearing the hill where fans sit beyond the outfield wall. A full story is coming…

Three innings? Jimenez can take it

Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez’s first Spring Training outing, Friday against the Angels at Tempe, will be three innings. Other starters whose Cactus League debuts have been announced will throw just two innings.

But Jimenez doesn’t mind the extra early work.

Jimenez pitched during the Dominican Winter League playoffs, and came to camp ahead of most of the pitchers in terms of readiness. He doesn’t intend to take extra rest later in the spring.

“I don’t want to rest,” Jimenez said. “I don’t want to lose anything. I like for my arm always to be loose. If I don’t throw for a couple of days, I don’t feel good.”

The Rockies have split-squad games Friday, one against the Angels and the other against the Giants at Scottsdale. Manager Jim Tracy said he wanted to keep Jimenez away from the Giants, since he could be pitching big games against them during the regular season. Lefty Jeff Francis, who missed last year because of shoulder surgery, will start against the Giants.

Jimenez said his opponent doesn’t matter.

“I’ll pitch against anyone, but I understand why they’re doing it,” Jimenez said.

Crosby scores, Francis floats

As he arrived at Hi Corbett Field, Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis — a loyal Canadian — said he’s walking “two inches off the ground.”

That was his reaction to Canada’s 3-2 overtime victory over the United States on Sunday in the Olympic gold medal hockey game.

Francis said he was watching at home with his wife, Allison, and young daughter, Cameron, when Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner. He somehow avoided an excessive celebration.

“My daughter was sleeping, so I let out the most silent yell, ever,” Francis said.

Rain hits, but the important work is done

A hard and chilly rain hit Tucson right around the time the Rockies’ pitchers and catchers were scheduled to end their drills during Saturday morning’s workout. It forced the team to change some plans for post-workout conditioning, but manager Jim Tracy said the baseball work was done.

Tracy is calling on his pitchers to be versatile offensively. Most of the time they’ll be asked to advance runners, with the bunt being the No. 1 weapon. But if pitchers develp the ability to slug-bunt for a base hit in such a situation or hit-and-run, suddenly Tracy can make surprise calls — or at least give the opponent other factors to consider.

“You look at those great Braves clubs with [Greg] Maddux, and [John] Smoltz, and [Tom] Glavine, and, back in the day, [Steve] Avery,” Tracy said. “One of the things you knew, and this goes back to when I was a coach in Montreal, they started and were able to do a lot of things. When they walked to the plate, yes, you knew a bunt was in order and there were times they would do that.

“But you had to be concious about the fact they could possibly do anything. That alone right there eased the opportunity for you to get the job done.”

Jason Marquis, one of baseball’s best offensive pitchers, took his bat and arm to the Nationals this winter after a strong 2009 for the Rockies. But Aaron Cook is such a versatile hitter that former manager Clint Hurdle used him as a pinch-hitter, and Jeff Francis has been more-than respectable at the plate.

At one point, stories of Ubaldo Jimenez’s ineptitude with the bat were sources of comedy, and Jorge De La Rosa wasn’t good, eithre. Now Jimenez is advanced with the bat. De La Rosa won an important game with the Mets last season with a double. Tracy said Jason Hammel, who had been in the American League with the Rays before being traded to the Rockies at the start of the seaso, also improved as last season progressed.

With Francis, old news is good news

One day into Spring Training, Jeff Francis insists he is old news.

 

Francis, who missed last year because of shoulder surgery, was one of the first pitchers to throw a bullpen session at Friday’s initial workout for Rockies pitchers and catchers. It went well. He and the Rockies got as much out of it as possible when a guy is throwing to a catcher, with no hitter.

 

Francis was nice about it, but clear: He didn’t want to be interviewed after every throwing session. He realizes that a guy who won 17 games in 2007 and has battled issues since is going to be watched closely. But there’s plenty of time for intense scrutiny, under game conditions.

 

“It feels good,” Francis said. “My arm felt great. I’m just working on my delivery, trying to get more comfortable with it. I’ll try to get more work on the mound without a ball every day, try to get used to my delivery.

 

“It feels like my arm again. It’s not me overcompensating for anything. I’m not hesitating with any pain. My arm is doing what it’s there to do. It’s just a matter of getting more comfortable mechanically, throwing the ball more efficiently.”

Notes: De La Rosa wants to stay

Here are some early Spring Training thoughts:

– Lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who led the Rockies in wins last season with 16, can become a free agent at season’s end. De La Rosa said his ambition is to have a strong year to earn the right to stay with Colorado. 

– Left-hander Jeff Francis not only is healthy after missing last year with shoulder problems, but he’s actually ahead of many of the other pitchers because of the intense offseason work. Francis faced hitters in the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago.

– Righty Greg Reynolds, the team’s top pick in the 2006 Draft, underwent surgery after the season to correct an issue with his labrum. Almost amazingly so, Reynolds is healthy enough to begin the spring without restrictions. Pitching coach Bob Apodaca said Reynolds’ motion — which the club believes was at the root of his troubles — has cleaned up considerably.

– The Rockies will have 32 pitchers in camp. Righty Taylor Buchholz, who underwent Tommy John elbow ligament transfer surgery last season and hopes to return to the Majors in June, is the only pitcher not healthy enough to be a factor.

Apodaca said right-handed reliever Casey Weathers, the top pick in 2007, was not invited to Major League camp so he could have a little more time to make sure his elbow is healthy. Weathers missed last season because of Tommy John surgery.

– Lefty Christian Friedrich, the team’s top choice in 2008, said being invited to this camp gives him the opportunity to closely study Francis’ delivery.

 

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