Left-hander Jeff Francis might prove he can go back to home – at least his professional baseball home.
Francis exercised an option in his contract with Cincinnati and was given his released from Triple-A Louisville on Monday, opening the way for his return to the Colorado Rockies, the team that selected him in the first round of the 2002 draft.
The Rockies rotation has been in upheaval all season. The team released 49-year-old Jamie Moyer on Wednesday. On Saturday right-hander Juan Nicasio sprained his left knee, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Josh Outman, who had been in the bullpen and had not thrown more than 25 pitches in an appearance for the Rockies, took Moyer’s place in the rotation on Friday night, and pitched well, but came out after 3 1/3 innings because of pitch count.
Guillermo Moscoso was called up from Triple-A Sunday to fill Nicasio's roster spot, but he was initially put in the bullpen to provide a fresh arm after a challenging but successful week in terms of demands on the bullpen.
The Rockies have used nine different starting pitchers. They went into Monday with a rotation ERA of 5.74, highest in the National League. In a just-completed 6-1 home stand, Rockies starting pitchers averaged less than five innings a game. The only quality start came in Sunday’s 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers when Alex White allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Francis was the ace of the Rockies rotation when they advanced to the World Series in 2007. In his first three full season with the Rockies (2005-07), Francis was a combined 44-32, including winning 17 games in 2007.
His career, however, was detoured by shoulder problems. Francis was 4-10 in 2008, and missed the entire 2009 season rehabbing from surgery. He was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in his comeback with Kansas City last
year, and showed durability, working 183 innings.
Signed to a minor-league deal by Cincinnati during the off-season, Francis, 31, who still has a residence in Denver, was 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts at Louisville. He allowed five earned runs in 22 2/3 innings his last three starts, including a seven-hit, complete-game shutout of Durham on Sunday.