Jeff Francis, who was slated to pitch the second game of the season against the Brewers, is headed to the 15-day disabled list because of pain below his left armpit. The 29-year-old left-hander missed the entire 2009 season due to shoulder surgery. He told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that he began feeling the pain after tossing five scoreless innings against the Cubs on Thursday.
“It’s hurting pretty bad, but not like
before,” said Francis. “I don’t know if that’s good news or bad. I threw
the ball (Thursday) in a way I hadn’t thrown it in a long time. It was
probably taxing on my shoulder and it probably wasn’t ready for it.
Needless to say, I’m pretty disappointed.”
Francis hasn’t yet gone for an MRI, but the pain was so significant that he was not able to play catch on flat ground on Friday. It’s a frustrating setback for the former 17-game winner.
While Francis is sidelined, left-hander Greg Smith is expected to take his place in the rotation. Smith, who was acquired along with Huston Street and Carlos Gonzalez from the Athletics in the Matt Holliday trade, has a 1.50 ERA and 18/6 K/BB ratio over 18 innings this spring.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.