Smith finds rotation spot with Francis out
The Colorado Rockies always talk about the need for depth.
And on the weekend before the season opens, the Rockies’ depth has become a necessity rather than a luxury.
Greg Smith, who was being considered as a bullpen stopgap until the Rockies were confident that leftywas in shape to pitch in the big leagues, is headed for the No. 2 slot in the Rockies rotation.
‘ smooth comeback from last year’s left shoulder surgery hit rough waters on Friday, according to reports out of Albuquerque, where the Rockies are playing their final games of the spring against Seattle. After working five impressive shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, Francis was unable to play catch on Friday because of a soreness under his arm pit.
The hope is Francis developed some fatigue and with rest and strengthening he will be back on track before long.
In the meantime, the Rockies can turn to Smith, who they acquired prior to last season from Oakland along withand for Matt Holliday. Smith was bothered by a series of arm illnesses and ailments last season and saw only spotty duty at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but has shown durability.
Two years ago, as a big-league rookie, he worked 190 1/3 innings for Oakland.
This spring, he had a 1.50 ERA with the Rockies, pitching 18 innings. He was considered the “sixth starter” with the idea he would be pitching in the rotation at Triple-A Colorado Springs to stay ready if a big-league need arises. In recent days, however, he was being considered to fill a bullpen opening created by Street being placed on the disabled list.
The loss of Street to right shoulder stiffness resulted in left-handerbeing moved into the closer role. The Rockies had thought the bullpen vacancy could be filled by a right-hander, Tim Redding, Justin Speier or Juan Rincon. None of the three, however, took advantage of the opportunity.
And with the Rockies wanting Beimel to get in some more game action in minor league camp before joining the big-league team, the Rockies opted to recalled right-handerfrom Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill the bullpen sport.