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.

Rays acquire Sergio Romo from Dodgers

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The Rays acquired right-handed reliever Sergio Romo from the Dodgers, the teams announced Saturday night. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash hinted that the team was in on Romo during the offseason, but couldn’t quite make a deal happen at the time. The righty reliever was designated for assignment by the Dodgers on Thursday and will net the club cash considerations or a player to be named later.

Romo, 34, struggled to find his footing in his first season with the Dodgers. He left a closing role in San Francisco to play set-up man to established closer Kenley Jansen, and saw mixed results on the mound with a 6.12 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 through his first 25 innings of 2017. It’s a far cry from the sub-3.00 ERA he maintained in 2015 and 2016, but the Rays don’t seem to have ruled out a second-half surge just yet.

The veteran right-hander is expected to step into a bullpen that already boasts a solid core of right-handed relievers, including Alex Colome, Brad Boxberger, Erasmo Ramirez, Chase Whitley and Tommy Hunter. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Rays were intrigued by Romo’s extensive postseason experience, affordability and hefty strikeout rate, but will likely continue to hunt for additional bullpen depth in the weeks to come.

Colin Moran is carted off the field after taking a foul ball to the eye

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Astros’ third baseman Colin Moran was carted off the field on Saturday night after a foul ball caught him in the left eye. He was forced to leave in the sixth inning when a pitch from Orioles’ right-handed reliever Darren O'Day ricocheted off the handle of his bat and struck him in the face, causing considerable bleeding and bruising around his eye. The full extent of his injury has yet to be reported by the team.

Prior to the injury, Moran was 1-for-2 with a base hit in the third inning. He was relieved by pinch-hitter/third baseman Marwin Gonzalez, who polished off the end of the at-bat by catapulting a three-run homer onto Eutaw Street.

Evan Gattis and Carlos Beltran combined for another two runs in the ninth inning, bringing the Astros to a four-run lead as they look toward their 65th win of the season. They currently lead the Orioles 7-4 in the bottom of the ninth.