Francis possible to fill open slot in rotation

Francis possible to fill open slot in rotation

Francis possible to fill open slot in rotation
PHOENIX -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy wouldn't designate his starting pitcher for Saturday at home against the Angels, but it's possible it could be the return of former Colorado left-hander Jeff Francis.

Tracy said that for the Angels series, Alex White would start on Friday and Christian Friedrich on Sunday. Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed seven runs on 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings on Tuesday night during a 10-0 loss to the D-backs, is being given another shot at it on Tuesday against the A's.

Asked if he could divulge his Saturday starter, Tracy had perhaps his shortest answer ever: "I can't."

Francis triggered an opt-out clause and was given his release from the Reds organization where he was pitching in the Minor Leagues. The Rockies have since been trying to come to terms with the pitcher who was their ace during the 2007 pennant-winning season and are close to signing him.

Francis subsequently underwent left shoulder surgery and left Colorado after the 2010 season. Last year, he was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals. He signed as a free agent with the Reds on Jan. 26 and was released Monday.

Tracy also said he had a meeting with Guthrie about the right-hander's performance on Tuesday night. After the game, Guthrie matter-of-factly said that he had pitched so poorly this season for Colorado "if they kicked me off the team today it wouldn't surprise me."

That didn't happen.

"I had a conversation with him this afternoon," Tracy said. "I don't want to involve myself in any of the specifics of it, but we're going to move forward with Jeremy Guthrie. As I mentioned to you on [Tuesday] night, I still feel very strongly about it. We need Jeremy Guthrie. There's no getting around that. We'll get to be where we need to be with Jeremy Guthrie."

In other news about players on the disabled list, Jonathan Herrera (strained right hamstring) was scheduled to begin his rehab assignment at Double-A Tulsa on Wednesday night.

Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder inflammation) played catch again on Wednesday and was "completely pain free," Tracy said.

Jorge De La Rosa (recovering from Tommy John surgery) wants to play catch and is pain free. "We want to wait until we get back to Denver before we venture into that," Tracy added. "We were very encouraged to hear that."

Juan Nicasio (strained left knee) has some fluid buildup on his injured knee. "It's nothing earth shattering," Tracy said. "But it is something we're dealing with in relation to Juan."

Troy Tulowitzki (strained left groin). "Better today," Tracy said. "Still not doing any baseball activity. But with treatment and things like that he is improving. No question about it."