Francis hopes to return to Rockies rotation soon |

Francis hopes to return to Rockies rotation soon

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Colorado Rockies' Jeff Francis, right, gets instruction from bullpen coach Jim Wright at the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009, during baseball spring training in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

TUCSON, Ariz. ” Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis is fielding ground balls, showing off moves to first base and practicing his bunting.

Just how much more he can do remains to be seen.

Francis is going through workouts with the Rockies, but doesn’t know when he will be pitching in a game after suffering shoulder strain since last season.

“The best case scenario is that I am pitching off the mound in the next three or four days. Hopefully I start to build up and by the end of spring I will be able to be in a game,” Francis said Monday. “If all goes well I might be back with the team by May.”

The Rockies have not given Francis a timetable to decide if surgery is required. He is not slated to be in the rotation when the regular season begins.

Francis, a vital part of the Rockies successful run to the World Series in 2007, spent a stint on the disabled list during the 2008 season before being shut down early in September. “We are going to keep working with Jeff. He has been very forthright in how he feels,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “We are probably going to guard on the side of caution.”

Colorado picked up Jason Marquis in a trade with the Chicago Cubs to help ease the burden of not having Francis in the mix. The Rockies hurler, who was 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA in the World Series run, hopes he will return soon.

“It is tiresome for me to wonder how it is going to be every day,” Francis said. “Right now it is OK, not the greatest. We will see.”

Francis was 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA a year ago with discomfort in his shoulders, but MRI’s have not shown a clear-cut problem. Bullpen sessions the next few days should tell more.

“I have been told MRI’s for throwing athletes are not 100 percent conclusive,” Francis said. “You never know there might be something not showing up or just inflammation lingering around.”

But Francis said the pain has eased up.

“That has made me a little more optimistic,” he said.

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