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Canadian MLB report: Francis impresses in big league return

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Sports Network
5/17/2010 10:29:52 AM
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Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - Colorado Rockies lefty Jeff Francis made his first major league start since Sept. 12, 2008 on Sunday, lasting seven innings in the Rockies' 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.

 

Francis did not factor into the decision but looked very sharp in his big league return. He surrendered seven hits, allowing one run and two walks, while striking out six.

With Jorge De La Rosa on the disabled list, Francis will add a much-needed left-handed arm to the Rockies' pitching staff.

The Vancouver, B.C. native missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Before the injury, Francis had the worst season of his career in 2008, finishing with a 4-10 record, despite allowing three runs or less in his final six starts of the year.

Just a few seasons ago, the lefty helped lead the Rockies to their first World Series appearance in franchise history, setting career-highs with 215 innings pitched, 165 strikeouts and 17 wins in '07.

From 2005-2007, Francis went an impressive 44-32 and solidified himself as a staple at the front of the team's rotation.

WARM WELCOMES

Michael Saunders - The Seattle Mariners promoted the 23-year-old Saunders from Triple-A Tacoma on May 6.

Since his arrival, Saunders has appeared in eight games, with three multi-hit efforts and two home runs along the way. The Vancouver, B.C. native is batting .296 with six RBI in 27 at bats this year. Saunders could see an extended look if he remains productive in the Mariners' slumping offense. If the Milton Bradley experiment proves to be a failure for Seattle, Saunders could very well become the everyday left fielder.

In his rookie season in '09, the outfielder appeared in 46 games, batting just .221 in 122 at bats. Saunders already has more RBI this season than he did all of last year.

Adam Stern - Stern, the 30-year-old from London, ON, made his first appearance in the big leagues this season on May 14, after being called up by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Stern hadn't played since the '07 season, where he appeared in two games with the Baltimore Orioles, never drawing an at bat. The outfielder has logged 49 games in the big leagues, spending most of his baseball career in the minors. He made his MLB debut in 2005 with the Boston Red Sox.

STREAKING

Russell Martin - The Dodgers backstop provided the lone run in the Dodgers 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday, with an RBI single in the sixth, to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Despite the streak, Martin is batting .264 on the season with four home runs and 12 RBI.

He is coming off his worst season in the majors in '09, when the catcher batted .250. Before last year, Martin had hit at least .280 in each of his three MLB seasons.

Jason Bay - After starting the month of May 2-for-17 at the plate, Bay has put together a 10-game hitting streak, with four multi-hit games during that span. Since the beginning of his streak on May 7, Bay has raised his average from .238 to .277.

While the hitting is welcome after a slow start to the season, Bay has lacked in the power department, going deep just once this year.

Justin Morneau - There is no stopping Morneau right now, as the left-handed slugger was leading the American League at weekend's end in average, on-base percentage, OPS and is second in walks and slugging percentage. Morneau is batting .362 with 9 homers and 25 RBI.

The Twins first baseman has three home runs in his last eight games, a stretch that included four straight multi-hit games.

 

Jeff Francis (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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