Francis suffers setback in bid to make Reds
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Jeff Francis’ bid to make the Cincinnati Reds rotation as a non-roster invitee ran into a Texas-sized roadblock Monday night.
Ian Kinsler homered and Nelson Cruz each hit two-run doubles off Francis to power the Rangers to an 12-2 rout of the Reds.
“It was bad,” Francis said. “Right now there is a lot frustration. I have to think about what I did. I’ve had days like this before. It’s not my first and not my last.”
Francis retired the first three hitters but then allowed 11 runs on 11 hits, pitching three batters deep into the fourth inning without getting an out. He walked one and struck out four.
The left-hander was coming off an outing in which he gave up three runs — two earned — on seven hits in five innings with five strikeouts against Seattle on March 20.
The Reds have until Wednesday to place Francis on the 25-man roster otherwise he can opt out of his minor-league contract and try to catch on with another club.
“We’re still analyzing what we have and what we need,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker. “He was just getting too many balls over the heart of the plate.”
Texas batted around in the second against Francis, and again in the fourth against the combination of Francis and reliever Nick Christiani.
Michael Young had three hits and scored three runs, Mitch Moreland had a two-run single and Josh Hamilton added a two-run double for the Rangers, who won for only the second time in Surprise this spring.
While Francis struggled, Rangers starter Scott Feldman had little trouble with the Reds. Feldman, who likely will be a spot starter and long reliever in the Texas bullpen, scattered three hits over six scoreless innings and struck out nine.
Those strikeouts, Feldman said, essentially were accidental.
“I was talking to (Rangers executive) Greg Maddux and he said not to even try to strike guys out,” Feldman said. “Just try and get ground balls and that’s what I did tonight. You can see why he won a lot of games.”
Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who entered the game having allowed eight runs in five innings, threw a perfect seventh and struck out two. Right-hander Mike Adams followed with a scoreless eighth.
Reds reliever Bill Bray, who has been slowed this spring by a groin injury, gave up two hits but struck out the side in the sixth.
“Once I got that first fastball out of the way I was really pleased,” Bray said. “I was really, really happy. With a week to go I’m going to give it my best shot to be ready when the season starts.”
Juan Francisco homered off Mark Lowe in the ninth for Cincinnati.
NOTES: Both of Texas’ home wins have come against the Ohio teams — Cincinnati and the Cleveland Indians. . Francis threw 15 pitches to get the first three outs and 57 more to record six more. . Reds LF Ryan Ludwick was a late scratch from the starting lineup due to nausea. . Earlier Monday, the Rangers released non-roster invitees OF Conor Jackson and LHPs Mitch Stetter and Joe Biemel. Texas also optioned RHP Mark Hamburger to Triple-A Round Rock and assigned RHP Sean Green to minor-league camp. . Texas RHPs Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis will start in minor-league games Tuesday evening on the back fields. Feliz will be making his first live appearance since leaving his start March 20 with tightness in his right shoulder. . RHP Mat Latos will start for the Reds on Tuesday against the Cubs.
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