Easy does it for Francis

Easy does it for Francis

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis kept his longest performance of the spring -- five innings on Tuesday in a 4-1 win over Seattle -- uneventful as far as the stat sheet goes. But there was enough excitement to make it productive.

For example, the home run he gave up to Richie Sexson to lead off the second inning was every bit as valuable as the strikeout of Sexson to end the fourth.

Sexson is a big-swinging right-handed power hitter, the type that will always challenge Francis, who is scheduled to start for the Rockies in the March 31 opener against the Cardinals. If Francis hits his spot on the inside, he can defeat such a hitter. But when Francis struggles, it's because he can't get the pitch there.

"My glove-side command is one of those things I'm working on," Francis said. "After trying to go in and he hits the home run on a ball that I didn't get there, it's nice to be able to execute it later."

In the fifth, Francis gave up an Adrian Beltre leadoff double and a Brad Wilkerson single to put runners at the corners, but forced a Miguel Cairo popup and got Jamie Burke to ground into a double play that featured a deft relay throw by second baseman Marcus Giles.

"It's always good for him to pitch with the confidence to get out of a first-and-third, no-out jam," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.