Frank Francisco has allowed runs in each of his last four appearances and was yanked from Sunday’s save opportunity with two outs remaining in the ninth inning, but manager Terry Collins is sticking with the struggling right-hander in the closer role.
“I just told him yesterday was one of those days, that he’s still the closer here and to be ready to pitch when we get him back out there,” Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
Collins also revealed that Francisco wasn’t happy to be removed mid-save situation, but added that “I certainly don’t blame him … if I was in his shoes, I’d be mad too.”
Jon Rauch has served as Francisco’s primary setup man and would be the obvious choice to replace him as closer if Collins decides to make a switch, but for now the manager is blaming sporadic work for some of the struggles and a two-year, $12 million contract signed this offseason gives Francisco quite a bit of job security.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.