Jeff Francis to open season on disabled list

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Jeff Francis.jpgJeff 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.

Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius say teams should expand protective netting

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Earlier, a young fan was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium and had to be carried out before being taken to a hospital. Fortunately, it seems that the fan is okay.

As usual, when a scary incident such as today’s occurs, players come out in full support of expanding the protective netting at ballparks. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier as well as Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier and shortstop Didi Gregorius all said as much after Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has also been a very vocal proponent of increased netting. For the most part, the players are pretty much all in agreement about the subject. It’s only a vocal minority of fans who seem to think that their ability to snag a random souvenir or have an unimpeded view supersedes the safety of their neighbors.

Video: Giancarlo Stanton hits a laser for his 56th home run

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton continued his march towards 60 home runs, hitting No. 56 in Wednesday afternoon’s win against the Mets. The Marlins, leading 7-2 prior to Stanton’s two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth, didn’t need the extra run support but welcomed it all the same. Mets reliever Erik Goeddel tossed a 1-1, 78 MPH curve that caught too much of the plate.

After Wednesday’s action, Stanton is batting .279/.378/.634 with 120 RBI and 116 runs scored along with the 56 dingers in 646 plate appearances. The last player to hit at least 56 home runs in a season was Ryan Howard (58) in 2006. Stanton’s is the 19th player-season of at least 56 homers.