Francisco was the Rangers Rookie of the Year in 2004 when he went 5-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 45 games, striking out 60 batters in 51 1/3 innings. But he developed a sore elbow the following spring and finally underwent surgery on April 29, 2005.
The Rangers were hoping that he would be ready this spring, but he continued to have pain and stiffness in the elbow and began the season on the disabled list.
"Spring Training was tough," Francisco said. "When I started throwing off the mound, it was hard to get my release point consistently, and the recovery was longer than it was supposed to be. This was my second surgery -- not Tommy John, but I've had two surgeries -- and I know how it feels with scar tissue. I knew that was the feeling."
Francisco had a number of setbacks during the season, especially when he tried to pitch in back-to-back games while on a medical rehabilitation assignment. But he finished strong and had a 1.84 ERA in 13 games at Double-A Frisco, striking out 22 in 14 2/3 innings before heading back to Class A Spokane to close their season, and the Rangers felt he was ready to return to the Major Leagues.
His velocity isn't what it was in 2004. His fastball was 97-98 mph back then but is more in the 92-94 range to go with his offspeed pitches, a split-fingered fastball and a slider. He thinks he can regain full velocity, but that may not matter.
"I don't have maybe the same stuff, but I think I'm a little better," Francisco said. "I think I've grown in different areas. I think I'm better mentality, and I think I've learned some things about pitching.
"To me, I don't feel different pitching in the Minors than I did in the big leagues. As long as I'm hitting my spots, I feel confident I can go out and do what I can do."
The Rangers want to see that. They still look at Francisco as a late-inning option for their bullpen next year, depending how far he has come in two years.
"I need to show them I can do it again so they'll save me a spot next year," Francisco said.
Dellucci takes compliment:
Rangers owner Tom Hicks raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he said the team missed outfielder David Dellucci's leadership. Dellucci was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of Spring Training and was flattered that his old team seems to miss him.
"That's a huge compliment, because he's not saying that we miss his 29 home runs or his on-base percentage," Dellucci said. "He's stating that he missed my leadership in the clubhouse. That's more important to me than saying, 'He's a good player.'
"I took a lot of pride in representing that team as best I could, and the role I was in over there. I'm glad it's being recognized that I did a good job."
Daniels says accountability important:
General manager Jon Daniels joined the Rangers on Friday and, in addressing what Hicks said earlier in the week, said, "I'm not speaking for anybody, but I think a couple of the elements that Tom talked about was, one, accountability. I don't think anybody here -- whether it's me, the players, the manager, the staff, the scouts -- are going to shy away from that.
"Secondly, we all need to be focusing on what we need to do to get better. We need to do that all the time, every day. What I don't want to get lost in the shuffle is there a lot of good things that have happened this year, and I'm going to focus on that."
As far as the remainder of the season, Daniels said, "The focus should be on winning games. We've got some personal goals that I'd like to see our guys reach that they've worked hard to get, and we have some young players who are going to be a big part of our future who are getting an opportunity. We've got some guys we're interested in bringing back that we'd like to see finish strong.
"But the focus is still on winning games."
The Rangers have finally settled on a rotation for the next week and probably for the rest of the season.
The Rangers have decided to pitch Robinson Tejeda on Saturday and Adam Eaton on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners. Edinson Volquez, who had been tentatively scheduled to pitch on Saturday, has been pushed back to Thursday in Arlington. Vicente Padilla and Kevin Millwood are scheduled to pitch the two-game series against the Detroit Tigers Tuesday and Wednesday.
"After [Friday], everybody will have four starts left in the season," manager Buck Showalter said. "This keeps everybody in line."
The Rangers were off on Thursday and have another day off on Monday, giving them a number of options on how to set up the rotation. Many different scenarios were discussed before they settled on this plan.
Pitcher Scott Feldman began his six-game suspension on Friday. His appeal was being pushed back, and Feldman was becoming concerned that the suspension might end up running into next year. Feldman received the suspension for hitting Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy with a pitch and causing a bench-clearing fracas on Aug. 16. ... Rod Barajas, who has been sidelined for a week with a strained back, is expected to start on Saturday. He has not played since Aug. 31. ... Akinori Otsuka has saved 31 of the Rangers' 61 victories (51 percent) since April 29. Said Showalter, "I would have liked to have closed out some of those four-run leads without using him."
Tejeda starts for the Rangers against the Seattle Mariners at 8:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Safeco Field. Jarrod Washburn pitches for the Mariners.