Frank Francisco unavailable after feeling shoulder soreness warming up

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Toronto closer Jon Rauch is out following an emergency appendectomy, so Frank Francisco was warming up to pitch the ninth inning of a 1-0 game yesterday when his shoulder started barking.

Francisco stopped throwing and the Blue Jays instead let Casey Janssen finish the game by pitching a third inning.

Today is an off day for the Blue Jays, but Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that Francisco will likely be examined by doctors before being cleared to pitch Tuesday, with a trip to the disabled list potentially looming.

Francisco has pitched very well since losing his closer job to Rauch in mid-July, allowing just one run in 13 innings with an 11/1 K/BB ratio, but he has a history of arm problems and spent time on the DL earlier this season with a strained pectoral muscle that was initially classified as a shoulder injury.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.