Frank Francisco easing into spring training

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 PM ET

DUNEDIN — Every pitcher likes to progress through spring training at his own pace and Frank Francisco, as a veteran, knows exactly when he has to be ready.

“I’m trying to build my arm slowly right now,” Francisco said Sunday. “I’m going to take my time and make sure I’m ready for opening day.”

On that subject, Francisco has asked the Jays brain trust if he can back off the general training schedule that has been mapped out.

“We slowed Frankie down today,” said manager John Farrell. “The one thing that we have to keep in mind, even though we have a schedule in place for everyone, we can adjust it for individual needs.

“Frankie has been a guy who has always started spring training slow and has worked into games at a pace his body responds to.

“That’s been his history. This is nothing abnormal. I wouldn’t even categorize it as precautionary.

“Some pitchers just take a little extra time to not only build up the volume but also to build up the intensity.”

Francisco closed for the Texas Rangers two years ago but was replaced in that role early in 2010 by eventual rookie-of-the-year Neftali Feliz. Francisco helped as a set-up man most of the season but missed all of September and the World Series run in October with a muscle strain in his side.

After he and the Rangers couldn’t agree on a contract, Francisco was traded to Toronto for Mike Napoli. He has since agreed to a one-year, $4-million contract and is probably the frontrunner to be the Jays closer.

“Everything is going great here so far,” he said. “I’m just trying to get comfortable and get ready for the season. There’s a great bunch of young guys here and it seems like we’re going to have a lot of fun.

“I’m going to be one of those guys. They can count on me and I want to be somebody special they can trust.”

Francisco said it hurt to be unable to help in the Rangers’ playoff run but he still revelled in it.

“I was a little frustrated but I was happy at the same time because I felt like I was part of the (46) saves that we got,” he said.

There is talk that Feliz may now join the Texas starting rotation. Francisco doesn’t know what the young phenom’s role will be and cares only for Feliz’s well-being.

“I just hope for whatever is the best for him. He’s a great guy with a great arm and a lot of ability. The best thing is he has the heart to pitch. He’s not afraid of anything.”

ken.fidlin@sunmedia.ca


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