Rockies may bring Francis back into fold
Left-hander was ace of 2007 National League championship squad
DENVER -- The Rockies are pursuing left-hander Jeff Francis, their ace during their National League championship season of 2007."We are interested; I have no idea of the outcome of that interest," general manager Dan O'Dowd said on Monday morning.Francis, 31, was pitching for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, and went 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 77 1/3 innings over 12 starts. Francis, who struck out 65 against 18 walks, had a June 1 opt-out clause in his Minor League contract, and after throwing a complete-game shutout on Sunday, he asked for his release, according to a Twitter dispatch by ESPN.com reporter Jerry Crasnick.The Rockies made Francis their No. 1 Draft choice out of the University of British Columbia in 2002, and he went 55-50 with them in six Major League seasons. He had his best campaign in 2007, when he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA. But his career was derailed by shoulder issues, which cost him the entire 2009 season and limited him to 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games, all but one of them starts, in 2010.The Rockies did not pick up the option on his contract, and he went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals last season.Francis has maintained a home in the Denver area.Injuries and struggles are affecting the Rockies' rotation. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin has not pitched since May 1 because of an injury to a chest muscle, and he didn't do any throwing until Saturday. Righty Juan Nicasio strained his right knee on Saturday and is on the 15-day disabled list, and the club released lefty Jamie Moyer last week.The Rockies are stretching out left-hander Josh Outman, who began the year mostly in a specialist relief role, for one spot. They called up right-hander Guillermo Moscoso from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday for another slot.Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.