Rockies 2, Mexico All-Stars 1

By: AP
By: AP

Jeff Francis admits his second spring training start left him feeling a bit more fatigued than in years past.

Then again, in years past, the 27-year-old left-hander hasn't spent the previous season pitching through the end of October.

"I started (throwing) in January, just like normal," Francis said after Sunday's 2-1 split squad loss to the Mexico National All-Stars at Hi Corbett Field.

"It felt a little soon, but it's a good problem to have, I figure."

If he's feeling fatigued, he isn't looking it. Francis threw 45 pitches Sunday, allowing two hits, one earned run and striking out two while getting tagged with the loss.

Francis, who has been named the Rockies' opening day starter by manager Clint Hurdle, has now thrown five innings in spring training, allowing five hits, two earned runs, striking out three and walking one.

"The good thing was just going out there and throwing three innings, getting up and down three times," Francis said. "You can feel it. You think about (pitching) three innings in the regular season and it's nothing."

Francis said he focused specifically on his ability to throw inside to right-handed hitters.

"I'd give it a 5, 6 out of 10," said Francis of his success pitching inside to righties. "I tried to go in there and missed a couple times."

Bench coach Jamie Quirk, filling in for Hurdle while he was in Phoenix with another split squad roster, said he was more than happy with Francis' performance.

"I don't take anything away (from the Mexico National team), but you know maybe his demeanor or adrenaline would have been different if we were playing a regular team," Quirk said. "He might have known hitters better, but he's just trying to get his work in for right now. ... and he's doing great. That's what we wanted today."

In the top of the third inning, Mexico center fielder Ivan Terrazas, a left-handed hitter, sent a changeup from Francis off the wall in the right center field gap for a leadoff triple.

Albino Contreras drove in Terrazas with a sacrifice fly to right field. Terrazas tagged up and Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe's throw sailed over the head of catcher Edwin Bellorin, giving Mexico a 1-0 lead.

"I got into some trouble with (my changeup). Some guys ran into it," Francis said. "I got one guy to roll over on it in the first inning. Still, it could be better, especially to left handers. (Terrazas) hit a triple and the ball was middle in and he was all over it. If it was middle away that would have been a better pitch."

The Rockies, who beat the same Mexico National team 15-2 Friday, didn't have the same luck Sunday.

Mexico's starting pitcher Walter Silva stifled the Rockies through 4 2/3 shutout innings. Silva got the win and allowed two hits, four walks and struck out four. He got a standing ovation by the strong contingent of Mexico National team fans in attendance when he was pulled in the fifth inning.

Mexico left fielder Christian Presichi had a pair of doubles in three at-bats.

Colorado second baseman Marcus Giles was 1-for-1 with a walk, and Clint Barmes hit an RBI double in the seventh. Barmes' double was Colorado's only extra base hit of the game.
Relief pitcher Luis Viscaino pitched a perfect ninth for the Rockies.

"He looked good, kept the ball down," Quirk said. "I saw (pitching coach Bob Apodaca) talking to him after the game about rushing, but when you're pitching late in the game like that after you've been sitting all day (it happens). ... He's a veteran, he's a guy we're going to be counting on."

Colorado's special assistant to the general manager Vinny Castilla, who is from Oaxaca, Mexico, received a standing ovation when he was announced as the third base coach in the bottom of the ninth inning.

"Vinny's the best," Quirk said. "Whether it's in Mexico or Denver, they love Vinny." Castilla had the longest line of autograph seekers after the game.


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