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04/01/10 7:09 PM ET

Street slowing things down

Closer hoping rest speeds up shoulder recovery

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Rockies closer Huston Street hopes slowing down now will speed up his recovery from right shoulder tightness.

Street has twice had his throwing program shut down because of continued inflammation and tightness. But Street said Thursday that he believes the plan of action that head athletic trainer Keith Dugger has given him will have him throwing next week without future delays in his return.

Street said the inflammation has caused muscles to shut down and weaken. The result is he has felt better at times, but after throwing the tightness has returned.

"We fear if I ramp up the throwing, I'll keep getting inflamed and it'll be a long, circular process, so Dugger has me on a program to build it up," Street said.

Street is on a program of exercise using cuff weights and manual exercises from muscles behind the shoulder. Once he has a solid base, he can add intensity at a high range, and return to throwing.

Street joined the Rockies in a trade with the Athletics before last season and converted 35-of-37 save opportunities. But he missed much of September with biceps tendinitis and struggled with further shoulder problems throughout Spring Training. He will begin the season on the disabled list. Lefty Franklin Morales is the first option at closer, although manager Jim Tracy said he will use right-handers for certain matchups.

"I'll start throwing, no set timetable, but I'm hoping by next week," Street said. "And we think because of the strengthening, it'll move more quickly once I start.

"I get impatient and want to throw, but I have to trust them [the Rockies' training and medical personnel]. The got me back healthy last year, and will again this year."

Francis pleased with final spring outing

MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Francis has had such a difficult Spring Training, his ERA sounded like something from Boeing. But the left-hander finally looked ready for takeoff on Thursday.

Entering his final preseason tuneup with an ERA of 7.27, Francis blanked the Cubs on three hits through the first five innings of the Rockies' 2-0 loss in their getaway game from Arizona.

"I found something I'd been searching for. It means a lot to finish on a good note," Francis said. "Especially against a lineup like that, it was nice to have good results."

Facing most of the Cubs' Opening Day lineup, Francis allowed two singles to Alfonso Soriano and another to Marlon Byrd while walking three and striking out three. The left-hander, who is returning from a season lost to shoulder surgery, and who will next take the hill Tuesday in Milwaukee in the Rockies' second game, credited a fastball and a clear mind with his effectiveness.

"The fastball was it today," he said. "I had complete command of it. I was told some of their hitters were saying they had trouble seeing it that well, and the deception is part of it, too.

"But I just felt more like myself today. My head was clear."

Colorado manager Jim Tracy was enthused enough over Francis' effort to shake off a loss that normally would irk him: The Rockies were shut out despite collecting 10 hits, partly due to the lack of those productive outs their manager values.

"But it was still a productive day," Tracy said, "because [Francis] pitched as good as he has all spring. He had a good two-seam fastball, enough of a breaking ball and was pitching ahead. Overall, a real good performance to take into his turn next Tuesday."

In his first five Cactus League outings covering 17 1/3 innings, Francis had given up 16 runs, 14 of them earned, and 20 hits.

"It was mostly mental," Francis said. "I didn't have any shoulder pain to be concerned about, and that was a large step. I've done all I can to prepare [for the season]."

Runnells heads home to be with ill father

MESA, Ariz. -- Colorado bench coach Tom Runnells has left the club and returned to Denver to be with his ill father.

According to Rockies manager Jim Tracy, Runnells' 92-year-old father suffered a heart attack on Wednesday, then a "mild stroke" on Thursday morning.

While the rest of the Rockies departed for Albuquerque and two exhibitions games against the Seattle Mariners following their 2-0 loss to the Cubs, Runnells took a late-afternoon flight home.

Tracy hopes his bench coach would be able to rejoin the team in Milwaukee on Sunday, when the Rockies will be working out and holding meetings prior to Monday afternoon's season opener against the Brewers.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.