03/10/2013 9:18 PM ET
Francis proud of Canada's Classic effort
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis watched the television with nothing but pride as Canada was falling short at the end of its 9-4 loss to Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Francis, a Vancouver native, pitched for the Canadians in the inaugural Classic in 2006, but was injured and didn't represent his country in 2009. Francis turned down the chance this year, saying he needed to focus on the Rockies.
He especially enjoyed watching catcher Chris Robinson, who throws with him during the winter in London, Ont., where Francis now lives.
"They were up in the seventh inning, so they didn't miss me," Francis said. "I enjoy watching them. I'm really proud of them."
In Sunday's 6-1 loss to the Dodgers, Francis threw four scoreless innings before giving up three runs on four hits in the fifth and was removed with one out because manager Walt Weiss did not want him going much beyond 70 pitches at this point of the spring. Francis had not given up a run before Sunday.
"I thought it was another good outing for him," Weiss said. "He could've gone longer. He wanted to stay in the game in that situation."
Weiss said Francis is in the mix for the Opening Day start on April 1 at Milwaukee, although matchups with the Brewers and the home opener on April 5 against the Padres are considerations, as well.
CarGo, Chacin finish Classic on high note
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Team Venezuela's losses in the World Baseball Classic will be the Rockies' gain, as All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and potential ace pitcher Jhoulys Chacin will be returning to the club shortly.
Venezuela lost its first two Classic games in Puerto Rico and has been eliminated from the tournament. The squad did come from behind to beat Spain, 11-6, on Sunday to avoid having to win a qualifier to be a part of the next Classic, in 2017.
"It's not a secret things did not work out well," Gonzalez said after Sunday's game, during which he went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two walks. "We didn't hit, we didn't pitch well, we didn't play defense in the first game against the Dominican Republic. A lot of players think that's why today we are packing up and going back home, and it's disappointing for us, for the fans. We have to keep moving forward and think about the future."
Many Venezuelans are among the game's most celebrated stars. Pride was on the line Sunday.
"We are professionals, and every time we have a uniform on, we're going to go out to try to win," said Gonzalez, who also tweeted an emotional statement of disappointment and Venezuelan patriotism. "That is our goal. We knew that today's game didn't mean anything; we weren't going to the next round. But we played to win.
"We were losing, 3- 0, early in the game, but we knew we would respond. That's how we thought in the first two games, it didn't happen, so we didn't get to where we wanted. "
Chacin pitched Friday in a loss to the Dominican Republic, so he can be slotted into the Rockies' rotation with little trouble.
Escalona vying for job in Rockies' bullpen
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Edgmer Escalona, out of Minor League options, is making progress in an effort to forge a bullpen spot for himself.
Escalona, 26, threw a scoreless ninth inning on Sunday and has given up just one run in five innings over his five appearances, one of which was during an exhibition game against Team USA. Escalona has six strikeouts, including one on Sunday, and has given up four hits and no walks.
Escalona spent much of last season at Triple-A Colorado Springs (3-3, 2.93 ERA in 32 games). He was 0-1 with a 6.04 ERA in 22 big league games, but held opponents scoreless in his final seven innings.
"It's a power arm with some sink, and that's his greatest asset," manager Walt Weiss said. "We want to take a close look at Escalona, for sure."
Blackmon's misfortune resurfaces at Rockies camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon believes he has an answer to the freakishly bad luck he's endured this time of year.
"I'm beginning to think I'm allergic to Spring Training," Blackmon said.
Blackmon, 26, returned to the clubhouse on Sunday after an absence mandated because of an infection in his right knee. He hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game since March 1, and an incision he received to alleviate the infection has prevented him from even working out. It is uncertain when he will resume activity.
Last year, Blackmon started the spring hot, but suffered a turf toe injury in early March and missed the rest of the Cactus League schedule. He battled the injury for much of the regular season before finally appearing for the Rockies in August. He hit .283 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 42 Major League games.
Blackmon said he suffered his current infection when he cut himself sliding. After receiving the wound, he wore a protective sleeve, but the knee became infected. It's a bitter disappointment for Blackmon, who has had impressive moments in the Majors the last two seasons before injuries limited his opportunity. Blackmon debuted in 2011 and hit .255 in 27 games before breaking his right foot.
"I've always come up with some crazy, weird injury," Blackmon said. "That's not who I am. That's not something that's been an issue in the past. As of late, it's plagued me a little bit.
"I was really looking forward to a hiccup-free Spring Training. I wanted to show what I could do the whole two months here, but it looks like I'm going to have this little bump in the road."
The Rockies' outfield is crowded as it is, with Tyler Colvin's ability to play first base and Eric Young Jr.'s speed and ability to also play the infield putting them in line for reserve roles. Blackmon, however, can play all three outfield positions and has enough speed to be a threat on the bases.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.