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Francis pregame interview

Francis pregame interview

You guys were always a team throughout this season that I guess people would say were lurking in the race. I'm wondering when you personally really started to believe that you had a legitimate chance, especially considering that for a long time you really couldn't make headway with teams ahead of you?

JEFF FRANCIS: We had a lot of teams ahead of us in the standings for all of the year, really. And really I guess we didn't think we had a chance until the last couple of days of the year.

I mean, we always took it day by day. We always knew we had to win if we wanted to get in.

And it turns out the last couple days of the year we end up getting a shot at a playoff game and that was our chance. We had to win, and we did.

Clint Hurdle has been through a lot of tough times here. I know you've only been here three or four years. In your experience with him, can you talk about what his personality has meant to the team, not being too high or too low?

JEFF FRANCIS: I think he's grown along with the team. I think we had a lot of young players, and he's a young manager as well. He's been around the game a long time.

I know as a manager your role is probably a lot different than you are as a player. And I think he's learned a lot as a manager, just like we have as players. And just the last three years and then down the stretch this year, I think as a team and coaching staff team together, you know, I think we've all learned just kind of how to really take it and make things simple, make them as easy as possible and really not make things more complicated than they need to be.

You were mentioning how you kind of waited until late in the season to actually sense your chance. Do you feel now that the fans in the U.S. and Canada know who you are or do you feel that they're still being introduced to the Rockies and vice versa?

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JEFF FRANCIS: I think they're still being introduced. I don't think that's a main concern of us as a team. I think it will always be Yankees/Red Sox in Major League baseball. But there's just no reason why a team like us can't come in and take baseball by storm for a month and a half like we have, and there's really no reason why we don't have as good a chance as anybody at winning this thing.

Whether people take notice or whether people catch on or not, that's really not something that we're concerned about. You know, we know the people in Denver have obviously caught on, and that's something that's pretty exciting.

Looking back at the streak the last month, is there any one game, one inning, one moment that you thought really sort of capitalized in your mind, got you on a role?

JEFF FRANCIS: There are so many moments, I mean, on this run we've had. The first one that comes to mind is right at the beginning when Helton hit the walk off home run off the Dodgers. If you look at that game, that game could have easily gone the other way and could have been the one game that kept us out of the playoffs.

You look at every game in that streak at the end of the year, every game could have been that game that kept us out of the playoffs. To think we had to win 13 out of 14 just to get a playoff game, that might scare you just to think about it. But that turns out what we had to do and it's pretty special that it happened.

At this point you don't know if you're going to pitch in two days or nine days. Does that matter to you at all with your preparation at all or at this point in the year does it not matter at all?

JEFF FRANCIS: Right now I'm preparing to pitch on Wednesday. If it so happens that I don't need to, then I can alter it then. But right now I'm gearing up for Wednesday.

Along those same lines about winning all those games, there have been any number of guys who have contributed during that time. Is it a little bit astounding if you look around your locker room you can point to almost everybody and say, well, he contributed there, he contributed there?

JEFF FRANCIS: I think that's one of the things that makes us so special is I think everybody in there feels like they're a big part of it. Obviously we've got guys like Helton and Holliday who are putting up numbers that nobody else does. But to think that we had to win those games down the stretch to get in and every day it was someone else coming through to win that game, like last night it was Yorvit or the other night it was Willy drawing the bases and a walk to score the winning run.

I think it's special that everybody in there feels they're a big part of it, not just a small part of it.

A lot of people are becoming enlightened as to how good the Rockies defense is that are seeing it for the first time. You've pitched in front of it all year. What's that been like and are you amazed yourself sometimes at some of the plays you see your guys make?

JEFF FRANCIS: I mean, it's rock solid. No pun intended or anything. But it's fun to watch and it's fun to play in front of. I mean, speaking as a guy who's not a strikeout guy who pitches to contact and relies on the defense a lot, you look behind you and you've got Helton who has won Gold Gloves, and Tulowitzki no question is going to win Gold Gloves in his career. That play last night where he spotted the double play is indicative of the things he's capable of. It's the consistency of it. It's not making all the incredible plays, the odd one here or there, but making all the routine plays and making them routine.

Have you pitched with three days' rest in your career and if so how different physically did you feel with the normal days rest?

JEFF FRANCIS: I've never pitched on three days rest.

Jeff, I'm wondering about your teammate Kaz Matsui, just describe how valuable he's been to you guys especially in the last run in the post season and why you think he might be more successful here than he was earlier in his career?

JEFF FRANCIS: I have no experience playing in New York but I can only imagine. It's probably like this every day. You know, you get to know Kaz a little bit as you play with him more. And maybe he's a little more comfortable here.

I've spoken with teammates who are maybe journeyman types who have played on a lot of different teams and they say how important it is to be comfortable where you are and how much of an effect that can have on your performance. Maybe that's it, I don't know. But he's certainly done a lot for this team. Probably can't express it in a short time. But with Willy going down and Kaz stepping into the lead off spot, I mean, you just look at what he did.

You can only set the table for Holliday and Atkins and Helton and Hawpe in the middle of the order and just being on base most of the times, it says it all.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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