Blue Jays-Rockies Preview
As Jesse Litsch prepares to make his first start since Tommy
John surgery, Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston hopes the
right-hander can quickly rediscover his form from the end of
Colorado Rockies starter Jeff Francis knows first-hand the
difficulty of coming back from a lengthy absence.
While Litsch will attempt to win his season debut Sunday,
Francis will try to earn his second victory since coming back from
shoulder surgery last month and help the Rockies sweep this
three-game set from slumping Toronto.
Litsch went 5-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 11 starts after being
summoned from the minors in 2008, then was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in
two starts last season. He underwent elbow ligament replacement
surgery on his throwing elbow last June, and his yearlong comeback
has included rehab stints at Class A Dunedin and Triple-A Las
“It’s been a long time coming,” Litsch told the Blue Jays’
official website. “I’m really happy to finally be back. My
velocity’s there, and my control is there too.”
Gaston is hoping that will mean his right-hander, who has never
faced the Rockies, can be the pitcher who performed so well two
“When he came back from the minors in 2008, he was just as good
as (Roy Halladay) that year, so I hope he comes back just as good,”
Gaston told the Blue Jays’ website.
Francis (1-2, 3.45 ERA) is still trying to recapture his magic
from 2007, when he finished a team-best 17-9 for the NL pennant
winners. The left-hander went 4-10 the following season, then
missed all of 2009 after the surgery on his pitching shoulder.
He returned May 16 and quickly made an impact, going 1-0 with a
0.68 ERA in his first two outings. Francis is 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA
in three starts since.
He exited with a one-run lead Tuesday night against Houston
after allowing two runs over seven innings, but the Astros rallied
against the Colorado bullpen for a 4-3 win.
“Here’s a guy where we took every step you need to take before
you venture back into the water,” manager Jim Tracy told the
Rockies’ website. “He’s a very special piece that we’re talking
This time, he’ll try to help Colorado (32-30) sweep Toronto
(34-29) for the second time in as many home series. The Rockies’
only other three games at Coors Field against the Blue Jays were
May 19-21, 2006, with Francis winning the middle game of that
Francis will now face a team that produced four hits in Saturday
night’s 1-0 loss and has batted .167 during a 1-4 start to a
nine-game road trip.
“We’re a better hitting team than this,” said first baseman Lyle
Overbay, who went 2 for 2 including a triple in the series opener
but was 0 for 3 on Saturday. “I think their staff is learning how
to pitch here. You don’t see many sliders or curveballs here and
when you do, they are breaking a lot.”