Smith finds rotation spot with Francis out

April 3, 2010 | 8:31 am | 5  

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 lefty Joe Beimel was in shape to pitch in the big leagues, is headed for the No. 2 slot in the Rockies rotation.

Jeff Francis‘ 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 with Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street 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-hander Franklin Morales being 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-hander Esmil Rogers from Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill the bullpen sport.

5 Comments »

  • GARY | April 3, 2010 | 6:34 am

    Am I the only one who finds this whole pitching lotto surreal?I’m glad for Smith,who seemed like the odd man out-but I was so stoked by Francis’ performance-calm our nerves Tracy please!

  • ProgMatinee | April 3, 2010 | 9:20 am

    This is really frustrating. I’m really starting to think both Street and Francis are a little “soft”.

    Parts of this pitching staff really seem eager to let the team down.

  • Karl | April 3, 2010 | 10:11 am

    Shoulder injuries are nothing to call soft, especially for a pitcher and early in the season. Just happy this club has good depth and they are preparing for a long productive season.

  • Matt G | April 3, 2010 | 10:33 am

    Re: Promatinee

    Unlike everyday players, pitchers depend on one single part of their body to stay productive, their arm. Say Barmes has a sore calf…he can still manage to produce most of his game. Base running and range may suffer a tad but he can still throw, hit, catch, etc. If Francis and Street have issues with their left and right arms respectively, their entire game is jeopardized. And this is no doubt the time of the season when it is best to have important players take time to fully recover from injuries rather than toughing it out until the all-star break then going down during the playoff push. Furthermore, if Smith can perform in the bigs how he has not only this spring but also as a rookie in Oakland, we may find ourselves wishing that Francis stays on the DL.

  • Redhawk | April 3, 2010 | 3:31 pm

    Francis injury was as bad as it could be with out having major surgery. Frankly, I’m surprised he’s as close as he is to being ready. A comeback from his injury isn’t a given.

    The old adage: “You can never have too much starting pitching” still holds. I’m glad the Rockies have the depth. Smith along with Rogers, Deduno, Chacin, and eventually Freidrick, give the Rockies a lot of options, where some clubs are looking at just plugging in warm bodies into their rotations. (see Rodrigo Lopez and Chris Benson in AZ as an example)