DENVER -- Left-hander Jeff Francis was one of the few pitchers drafted and developed by the Rockies who became a solid winner. Now, he has a chance to join another group of pitchers who found success pitching at Coors Field.
Veterans such as left-handers Shawn Estes and Darren Oliver and right-hander Kevin Millwood came to Colorado when their opportunities dwindled. All pitched well enough to get back on the big league radar.
Francis' attempt to revive his career began on Saturday with his start against the Angels. He was 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts for Triple-A Louisville and threw a complete-game shutout last Sunday against Durham before he asked the Reds, Louisville's parent club, for his release so he could seek a big league opportunity.
Fans will definitely see a different Francis from the one who went 17-9 in the 2007 World Series year. Shoulder problems, which ended up costing him the 2009 season and derailing his career, have robbed him of low-90s velocity. But the know-how remains. He went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals last year. But he proved durable, throwing 183 innings and going at least six innings in all but 11 starts.
"We get a guy that has quite a history [in] this organization," Tracy said. "When I say he's not the same pitcher that he was back in 2007, the biggest difference being he doesn't throw 92, 93 mph anymore. That is the only difference. There is still the pitchability. There's still an incredible amount of know-how, and there's an opportunity for him to have a chance to succeed. If we're fortunate to see that happen, I think the lessons learned for some of our younger guys can be spectacular."
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki welcomed the signing.
"Anytime you bring in a guy that is such a big piece in what we've done here, such as starting Game 1 of the  World Series ... he's a veteran pitcher," Tulowitzki said. "We have a lot of young guys on the staff, and he's a guy that knows how to pitch and he can teach some of these young guys some things.
"Jeff is a great guy. Since Day 1, he's been one of my favorite teammates. He's someone that never has a bad day. He enjoys really coming to work. He's someone who represents what the Rockies are about."
Rockies designate Rogers for assignment
DENVER -- The Rockies finally stopped the roller-coaster ride that is right-hander Esmil Rogers by designating him for assignment to clear a spot for veteran pitcher Jeff Francis. Francis made his signing with the club official so he could start Saturday afternoon's game against the Angels.
Rogers, 26, could display an effective low-in-the-zone fastball and an effective slider when at his best. But he also had a penchant for not delivering the put-away pitch. Both the good and bad would show up during the same outing -- like in Friday night's 7-2 loss to the Angels, when he retired the first two hitters in five pitches, then had to be removed after 18 more pitches and three runs that ended any hope of a comeback.
This doesn't necessarily mean the end of Rogers in Colorado. The Rockies have 10 days to trade, release or outright Rogers (0-2, 8.06 ERA in 23 games this year; 8-11, 6.77 ERA in 70 games, including 22 career starts) to the Minors. Within that time is a 72-hour waiver period during which another club can claim him for its Major League roster.
But manager Jim Tracy said that while informing Rogers of his decision, he went over some of the points that he's been going over since Rogers first came to the Majors in 2009. So if he stays, there's still hope he can harness his talents and return.
"It's a young man sitting across from you at your desk, and you can't drop [him] like [he's] a sack of potatoes," Tracy said. "You don't do things like that. I found myself revisiting a lot of different places I've been to over the last couple of years.
"A lot of it is putting a Major League club on a roller coaster where you get tantalized with superb [stuff]."
Tracy brought up outstanding performances by Rogers -- including a 2-1 victory over the Pirates on April 25, and May 2 when he fanned the then-sizzling Matt Kemp with the bases loaded in an 8-5 victory over the Dodgers, plus a couple of other good outings. But he also said some of the draining work between and around those games made it difficult for Tracy to feel comfortable using him.
Warner set to sign with Rockies on Sunday
DENVER -- Ryan Warner, selected with pick No. 128 in last week's First-Year Player Draft, is expected to sign with the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.
A 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher from Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Warner had signed with and intended to go to North Carolina State. But the chance to play for his favorite childhood team was too great to pass up.
In his senior season at Pine Creek, Warner compiled a 7-1 record -- throwing a no-hitter and a one-hitter -- and a 2.81 ERA on his way to being named Colorado's Gatorade Player of the Year.
Warner called N.C. State a few hours after he was drafted and informed the coaching staff he was going to sign with the Rockies. It was one of many life-changing phone calls Warner made that day, as he had earlier said thanks, but no thanks, to both the Phillies and the Marlins -- who had picks Nos. 125 and 127, respectively.
"I called [Rockies senior director of scouting operations] Mark Gustafson, and said, 'Are you guys going to pick me? I want to be a Rockie, but I've got the Phillies and the Marlins on the phone,'" Warner told MLB.com on Tuesday. "I trusted Mark when he said they would draft me, gave the Phillies and Marlins a high number, and it worked out."
The bonus amount has not been disclosed.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Trey Scott is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.