Francis goes seven strong for Reds
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Given another chance to make the Cincinnati Reds’ opening-day roster, Jeff Francis responded with his best outing of the spring.
Francis allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings and the Reds routed the San Francisco Giants 10-2 on Saturday.
“That was big time right there,” Reds manager Dusty Baker.
Francis’ future with the Reds appeared in doubt Monday, when he yielded 11 runs and 11 hits in three innings against the Texas Rangers. The left-hander could have opted out of his minor league contract if he hadn’t been added to the Reds’ 25-man roster by Thursday but elected to remain with the club.
“It was better,” Francis said. “I talked to (pitching coach) Bryan (Price) after (the last game) and I had better pitch selection early on. It got me in a better groove. Going seven innings is a sign that I’m ready for the season, wherever it is.”
Cincinnati has only 12 healthy pitchers remaining in camp and, while the final makeup of the rotation appears in doubt, Francis most likely will start the season in the back end of the bullpen.
“I’m not worry about where I’m going to pitch,” Francis said. “I’m just trying to get people out. They haven’t said anything to me yet. I’ve only relieved one outing in my career but I am ready to do it.”
Francis gave up a one-out single to Melky Cabrera in the first and then retired 15 consecutive batters before hitting Brett Pill with a pitch with two outs in the sixth.
“We didn’t seem to have very many good swings,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “That’s what disappointed me. I know everybody’s excited to get the season started. But our heads were somewhere else.”
San Francisco finally scored against Francis in the seventh when Buster Posey walked with one out and Joaquin Arias hit his second home run in as many games against the Reds.
The Giants rolled through the major and minor league bullpens on Saturday. Guillermo Mota started and threw two hitless innings and was followed by Jeremy Affeldt, Mitch Lively, Steve Edlefsen, Santiago Casilla, Wilmin Rodriguez and Jean Machi.
Joey Votto doubled and scored for the Reds, his third extra-base hit of the spring. Scott Rolen added a pair of hits and drove in two.
“That’s important going into the season, having the guys feel good offensively,” said Baker, whose club has won four of five. “It’s good to keep winning on the way out. We had a rough stretch in the middle but we’re back in sync.”
NOTES: Baker was listing his starters for reporters on Saturday morning and pointedly left RHP Mike Leake off the list. Leake could be optioned to Triple-A if Baker elects to start the season with only 11 pitchers. . Giants RHP Clay Hensley had an MRI Saturday on his strained right calf but also played catch. . Reds RHP Mat Latos, who left Monday’s start against the Chicago Cubs with a strained left calf, will start Sunday for Cincinnati against RHP Jake Peavy and the Chicago White Sox. . Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong pitched three innings in a Triple-A game earlier Saturday, giving up two runs — one earned — on four hits with two strikeouts. Vogelsong was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27 with a strained back. . Bochy said LHP Barry Zito, originally scheduled to pitch against the A’s on Wednesday in the finale of the Bay Bridge exhibition series, instead will remain in Arizona to continue working on his delivery in minor league camp. Zito started for San Francisco on Friday and allowed five runs on seven hits in three innings. . Posey, who caught eight innings on Friday night, started at first base. Bochy said Posey may start regular-season games at first in order to get an extra right-handed bat in the lineup. . The Giants’ pitching returns to normal Sunday as RHP Tim Lincecum faces Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo in a matchup of opening day starters.