New York Mets: Jeff Francis

Series preview: Mets vs. A's

June, 23, 2014
6/23/14
1:35
PM ET

Getty Images/Associated PressThe Mets are due to face left-handers Scott Kazmir and Brad Mills during a two-game series against Oakland.
METS (35-41, fourth place/NL East) vs. OAKLAND ATHLETICS (47-29, first place/AL West)

Tuesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (7-5, 3.88) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (9-2, 2.08), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-7, 3.93) vs. LHP Brad Mills (0-0, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET

A’s short hops

Sonny Gray (7-3, 2.91 ERA) had been lined up to face the Mets in the series opener, but will have his start pushed back to Saturday at Miami to conserve the 24-year-old ace’s innings. He has tossed a team-high 99 innings this season.

As a result, Scott Kazmir moves up to Tuesday to oppose Bartolo Colon. After a successful 2013 season with Cleveland, Kazmir signed a two-year, $22 million deal with Oakland to replace Colon, who signed the two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets.

The ex-Mets farmhand Kazmir, 30, will be pitching in Queens for the first time since the notorious July 30, 2004, trade that sent him to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano. Kazmir struck out 12 Mets in six scoreless innings in his first meeting against his original club last September in Cleveland.

Kazmir is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA and .184 opponent batting average in his past five starts. Overall, his 2.08 ERA leads the American League, narrowly ahead of runner-up Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees (2.11). Kazmir’s average fastball velocity is 90.8 mph this season, down from 92.5 mph a year ago with the Indians, but significantly higher than his 86.5 mph with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011, when he was dumped and his career appeared done.

Kazmir told ESPNNewYork.com last year about facing the Mets for the first time: “I guess you can say there will always be something there from it being the team that drafted me. But it just feels like so long ago. I’m just concentrating on what I have to do and not really worried about too much of the significance of the game.

“When I was there, it was a completely different staff, front office, players and everything. Plus, I never really got to the big leagues with the Mets. It’s nice to see the guys that I got drafted with and stuff like that, but it just seems like I’ve already turned the page.”

Brad Mills, 29, made his A’s debut Friday against Boston. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks and threw 94 pitches in four innings. He had been 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts) for Triple-A Nashville in the Milwaukee Brewers organization this season before Oakland purchased his contract for $1. Mills took over in the rotation for Drew Pomeranz, who punched a chair after a poor start and fractured his right hand.


Otto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesJosh Reddick is returning from the disabled list to face the Mets.


• Right fielder Josh Reddick (.214, 4 HR, 22 RBIs) will return from the disabled list for Tuesday’s series opener. He already had a rehab assignment for a hyperextended right knee.

Kyle Blanks departed Sunday’s game with a left calf strain and will be placed on the DL. Blanks has been platooning with Brandon Moss at first base. The righty-hitting Blanks, 27, was acquired from the San Diego Padres on May 15 for Jake Goebbert and player-to-be-named Ronald Herrera. He is hitting .333 (15-for-45) with two homers and seven RBIs since the trade.

• Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson leads by more than one million votes over Texas’ Adrian Beltre in the latest American League All-Star balloting at third base. Yoenis Cespedes has climbed to fourth among outfielders, while No. 2 Derek Norris now trails leader Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles by 365,920 votes at catcher.

Cespedes leads the majors with nine outfield assists.

Oakland carries three catchers. Norris was struck in the head on a backswing by Boston’s Jonathan Herrera. He reportedly passed a concussion test, but has been struck multiple times before.

• A’s manager Bob Melvin and bench coach Chip Hale were among the serious candidates for the Mets managerial job that went to Terry Collins. Melvin said he is definitely interested in seeing the ex-A’s pitcher Colon bat. “We may walk Bartolo intentionally a couple of times just to get him on the basepaths, see him run around a little bit,” Melvin joked to Bay Area media.

• Oakland leads the majors in runs scored (389), on-base percentage (.336), ERA (3.02) and opponent batting average (.228).

• The A’s are the lone major league team not to use a rookie this season.

• Left-hander Sean Doolittle has not allowed a run in his past 22 appearances. The 24 1/3 scoreless innings streak is the longest active streak in the AL. He is the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 45 while issuing no more than one walk to begin a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Former Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis has appeared in five games in relief since being claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on May 18.

• Shortstop Jed Lowrie is hitting .117 (7-for-60) with seven walks and 16 strikeouts in his past 15 games.

TC intends to again use Hawkins as closer

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
5:17
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NEW YORK -- Terry Collins, who has predicted he will mix and match his closer in Bobby Parnell's absence, expects LaTroy Hawkins will close for a second straight game today. Hawkins produced his first save of the season Tuesday night despite allowing a pair of two-out singles.

• The Rockies placed slugger Carlos Gonzalez on the disabled list with a sprained joint in his right middle finger. Lefty Jeff Francis was promoted from Triple-A Colorado Springs.

• Collins said Daniel Murphy is the best hitter on the team and therefore merited batting No. 3 in the lineup, where he can drive in runs. Collins said an added benefit is lengthening the lineup by having Marlon Byrd bat fourth and Ike Davis bat fifth. Hitting coach Dave Hudgens recommended to Collins that Juan Lagares bat second.

Justin Turner replaced Wilmer Flores at third base for the ninth inning Tuesday, but Collins said he is not looking to regularly double-switch Flores out of the game to improve late-inning defense. Collins said his motivation in the series opener was Flores making the final out of the bottom of the eighth and a double-switch ensuring Hawkins could pitch multiple innings without batting if the game became tied in the top of the ninth.

Series preview: Mets vs. Rockies

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
10:20
AM ET

US Presswire/Getty Images
Rockies players (l to r) Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton are all on the disabled list, leaving Colorado a skeleton crew.
METS (57-64, third place/NL East) vs. COLORADO ROCKIES (46-73, fifth place/NL West)

Monday: RHP R.A. Dickey (15-4, 2.89) vs. RHP Alex White (2-6, 5.74), 7:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (3-6, 4.50) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-3, 7.30), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-3, 3.00) vs. LHP Jeff Francis (4-4, 6.07), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Johan Santana (6-9, 4.85) vs. RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-3, 5.46), 1:10 p.m. ET

Rockies short hops

• Right fielder Michael Cuddyer landed back on the disabled list with a right oblique strain and could be lost for the season. He had missed two weeks, then returned for three games. Cuddyer (.260, 16 HR, 58 RBIs) signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal in December.

Also sidelined:

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki underwent surgery to repair a strained left groin on June 21. Tulowitzki originally suffered the injury running out of the batter’s box on May 30. He is due to be with the Rockies in New York, but inactive. He ran the bases Saturday, but is not due to begin a rehab assignment until next week.

First baseman Todd Helton underwent season-ending surgery on Aug. 10 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.

Jason Giambi has been out since July 20 with a viral infection. He has started taking batting practice and fielding grounders, but is not expected back until the end of the month.

Tyler Colvin and Jordan Pacheco have shared first base with Helton out, while Pacheco otherwise teams with Chris Nelson to man third base.

Josh Rutledge, who made his major league debut July 13, is the shortstop minus Tulowitzki. But Rutledge suffered his own injury Sunday, leaving the game in the fourth inning after tweaking a previously strained left quadriceps. Presuming he’s healthy, Rutledge should move to second base once Tulowitzki returns.

Eric Young, who is hitting .426 in 13 games since Aug. 6 and showing uncharacteristic power in addition to his customary speed, and Colvin have subbed for Cuddyer in right field. But Young, too, was forced from Sunday’s game after straining a rib-cage muscle. Young predicted his absence would be limited to a “game or two.”


Chris Humphreys/US Presswire
Jhoulys Chacin returns from a pec muscle injury that sidelined him since May.


Nelson returned Aug. 6 from a DL trip for an irregular heartbeat. Pacheco ranks among the leaders in NL rookie offensive categories, including average at .312, although his 339 plate appearances are narrowly shy of qualifying.

• Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will make his first major league appearance since straining a pectoral muscle. He landed on the DL after a May 1 start. He will be on roughly a 75-pitch limit. He tossed 91 pitches over seven innings Thursday with Triple-A Colorado Springs.

The Rockies have employed a four-man rotation with pitch counts in the 70s under manager Jim Tracy, so Chacin could alternate starts with Drew Pomeranz going forward to keep the rookie Pomeranz’s innings in check. The four-man rotation began out of necessity in Philly in mid-June due to a lack of quality arms after Jeremy Guthrie’s struggles got him bounced from the rotation to the bullpen. Three bullpen arms piggyback the starters to handle middle innings.

• Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez was placed on bereavement leave and traveled to Venezuela on Saturday to mourn the death of his grandfather. He likely will return Tuesday, but is eligible to miss as much as a full week.

Tyler Chatwood, acquired from the Angels on Nov. 30 for Chris Iannetta, has a 3.93 ERA in four starts since returning from a one-month stint in the minors. Standing a modest 5-foot-11, the 22-year-old Chatwood doesn’t throw downhill. So his 95 mph fastball needs location; otherwise it can be flat and hittable.

• The Rockies traded Marco Scutaro to San Francisco for infielder Charlie Culberson on July 27. D.J. LeMahieu, acquired from the Cubs last offseason with Colvin for Ian Stewart, has taken over at second base.

• The Mets seriously discussed acquiring catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Rockies before the July 31 trade deadline, but ultimately obtained Kelly Shoppach this month. Rookie catcher Wilin Rosario now handles the bulk of the duty for Colorado. Rosario is six homers shy of matching the Rockies’ rookie record, established by Helton with 25 in 1998. His defensive skills do not match his plate prowess.

Alex White will make his fifth start since being recalled from the minors on Aug. 2. His return coincided with Jonathan Sanchez suffering from left biceps tendinitis.

• Left-hander Jeff Francis’ Aug. 13 win gave him 59 victories as a Rockie, passing Jason Jennings for second on the franchise’s all-time list. The leader: Aaron Cook, with 72 wins.

• Reliever Adam Ottavino is a local product. He graduated from Berkeley Carroll High School in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and has trained during the winter at the same Garden City, L.I., facility as several local Mets players the past few years, including now-departed Jose Reyes and Pedro Beato.

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Coors Field, April 27-29 (AP game recaps)

Rockies 18, Mets 9: Carlos Gonzalez was at the center of an 11-run fifth inning, hitting a homer and a single for five of his six RBIs, and the Rockies overcame Scott Hairston's cycle. Ramon Hernandez hit his sixth career grand slam -- the first for the Rockies this season -- and Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler also homered for Colorado, which set a season high for runs. Hairston became the 10th player in team history and first in the majors this season to hit for the cycle. He drove in four runs, but it wasn't enough on a night when pitching was an afterthought. More

Mets 7, Rockies 5: Dillon Gee shook off the rough patch in an otherwise strong outing and Lucas Duda backed him with a homer and single to drive in four runs. Gee allowed four runs in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two, and seemed to be at his best late in his outing, retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced. More

Mets 6, Rockies 5 (11 innings): Ike Davis singled in the go-ahead run off reliever Matt Belisle in the 11th inning and the Mets overcame two tying homers allowed by their bullpen. Johan Santana, looking for his first win since September 2010, left with a 4-0 lead after six innings but Tim Byrdak gave up pinch-hitter Todd Helton's grand slam in the eighth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis put the Mets ahead again with an RBI double in the 10th before Frank Francisco served up Carlos Gonzalez's solo homer in the bottom half. David Wright started the 11th with a single off Belisle (1-2) and went to third on Lucas Duda's single. After Scott Hairston hit into a fielder's choice, Davis' sharp grounder finally rescued the Mets. More

Crasnick: Mets interested in Francis

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
3:02
PM ET
The Mets are among four teams "keeping tabs" on left-hander Jeff Francis, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports. The Mariners, Blue Jays and Reds also have interest.

Francis, 31, went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Kansas City Royals last season.

Scratch off Francis

January, 14, 2011
1/14/11
9:36
AM ET

Jeff Francis


Starting Pitcher
Colorado Rockies

Profile


2010 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
20 4 6 23 67 5.00
Left-hander Jeff Francis has agreed to a one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals pending a physical, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports.

That leaves Chris Young as perhaps the top remaining option in the Mets' price rage.

GM Sandy Alderson told ESPNNewYork.com on Monday that he would like to add a starting pitcher, while paying no more than the deal Chris Capuano signed with the club. That contract had a base salary of $1.5 million with the opportunity to earn roughly another $3 million in performance-related bonuses.

Report: Francis decision within days

December, 18, 2010
12/18/10
10:11
AM ET

Jeff Francis


Starting Pitcher
Colorado Rockies

Profile


2010 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
20 4 6 23 67 5.00
Free agent left-hander Jeff Francis' decision to re-sign with the Colorado Rockies or head elsewhere could be made within days, writes Jim Armstrong in the Denver Post. The report lists the Mets, Brewers, Pirates and Nationals as other suitors for Francis.

After undergoing February 2009 shoulder surgery and missing that entire season, Francis returned May 16 and made 20 appearances (19 starts) the remainder of 2010.

A Mets insider told ESPNNewYork.com on Friday that the team was more likely to sign a free agent than complete a trade to add a starting pitcher.

Report: Francis on radar (updated)

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
10:51
PM ET

Jeff Francis


Starting Pitcher
Colorado Rockies

Profile


2010 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
20 4 6 23 67 5.00
The Mets are willing to give free agent left-hander Jeff Francis a major league deal for 2011, while Francis' former club, the Colorado Rockies, will only give a free-agent invite, Foxsports.com reports.

Francis, 29, was 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts) for the Rockies last season after undergoing shoulder surgery the previous year.

The Mets are looking to add two starting pitchers from outside the organization -- and ex-Padre Chris Young is "pretty heavy" into talks with the Mets, according to Terry Collins.

UPDATE: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick hears the Mets have not made any offers to Francis.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187