4/24/2013 8:30 P.M. ET
Francis to start on three days' rest
By Jack Etkin / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- Jeff Francis will start on Saturday in Arizona on three days of rest, something he did eight times last season and the result of the Rockies playing a split doubleheader Tuesday.
Francis started the first game against the Braves and threw 75 pitches in four innings, allowing his first three homers of the season and the Rockies lost, 4-3. In the second game, Jon Garland threw 92 pitches in six innings, yielding three homers and six runs in six innings and the Rockies lost, 10-2.
Pitching coach Jim Wright said the decision had been made before the doubleheader that Francis would be the choice to start against the D-backs on short rest, and be on a limit of about 75 pitches against the Braves.
When the Rockies went to a four-man rotation in mid-June last season and stayed in it for two months, Francis made eight starts on three days' rest and went 3-2 with a 4.99 ERA.
"He volunteered to be the guy to do that," Wright said. "A month ago, he said, 'If there's ever a time you need somebody to come back, I'm capable of doing it.' And that's not why we did it, but knowing he has done it in the past with some proficiency, he was the likely candidate."
Wright said Francis will not be on a pitch limit Saturday at Chase Field. He has exceeded 90 pitches in two of his four starts -- 97 in six innings in the Rockies' home opener on April 5, and 93 against the Mets in the second game of a split doubleheader on April 16.
In his past three starts, Francis is 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA, having allowed 22 hits and 19 runs, 14 earned, in 10 innings. When he threw his first pitch against the Mets, the temperature was 36 degrees -- it was 23 degrees when the game against the Braves began on Tuesday. An inability to pitch inside effectively on a frigid afternoon -- 23 degrees is a record low temperature for the start of a Rockies home game -- hurt him against the Braves.
"His strength is down and away, changing speeds on his fastball, using his changeup and early curveball," Wright said. "I think yesterday it was so cold, he didn't have a good feel of the curveball.
"The ball's a little slicker, so he has to stick with more straight stuff. And therefore, for him to be successful those days and especially against a right-handed lineup like Atlanta, he has to pitch a little bit more inside to open up down and away for him."
Helton held out for fifth straight game
DENVER -- First baseman Todd Helton did not play for the fifth straight game on Wednesday. Afterward, he said he hit in the indoor batting cage and his strained left forearm was "still sore." Helton traveled with the team to Phoenix following the game but said, "I don't know what they're doing," referring to possibly going on the 15-day disabled list.
Before the game, manager Walt Weiss said the Rockies will soon be at a crossroads with Helton as far as that issue.
"It'll get to the point, we got to make some decisions," Weiss said. "He has been getting better every day. So leave him out of there today and hopefully, he might be available when we get to Phoenix."
If Helton goes on the disabled list, the move could be retroactive to Saturday, meaning he would be eligible to be activated May 5. He strained his forearm when his left hand came off the bat while swinging April 16 in the first game of a doubleheader. He pinch-hit in the second game and played in the Rockies' next two games on Thursday and Friday.
Scahill impresses before being sent down
DENVER -- Tyler Chatwood was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start Wednesday against the Braves. He took the roster spot of reliever Rob Scahill, who was optioned to Triple-A after making a good impression in his one outing with the Rockies.
Scahill relieved Jeff Francis on Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader and pitched three scoreless innings against the Braves, allowing one hit with two strikeouts. He threw 28 pitches, 20 for strikes.
"Robbie did a great job," manager Walt Weiss said. "Saw a lot of progression in Spring Training with Robbie. About halfway through, some things that he was working on just clicked. He's carried that into the season, and he's throwing the ball real well down in Colorado Springs. He's one of those guys down there that's going to be in our mix and be a part of our club this year, for sure."
Weiss said Scahill's mental approach has improved, and he is better able to slow things down and, hence, not have his mechanics go awry.
"Sometimes he would start to get fast," Weiss said. "That would leak into his delivery. More than anything else, it's being aware of that. He's been able to slow things down."
Rosario improving defensively for Rockies
DENVER -- Catcher Wilin Rosario has been rather inconspicuous behind the plate, unlike last year when he led Major League catchers in passed balls (21) and errors (13) as a rookie.
Rosario has been charged with two passed balls and one error while catching in 15 games. The second passed ball and error occurred in the first inning of the second game of an April 16 doubleheader, when the temperature was 28 degrees. Rosario wasn't making excuses, but he said he couldn't feel the ball in his hand when he threw it well right of second base.
"Just from a technique standpoint, he's getting over the ball better and his glove is staying down," catching coach Jerry Weinstein said. "He's getting both hands down between his knees. He's a lot softer. He was rigid last year. But that comes with the confidence factor and the relaxation, which comes from knowing that you've done the preparation."
Rosario hit cleanup for the second time this season on Wednesday. He went 2-for-6 and is now hitting .302 with four homers and 14 RBIs.
"He's got an unbelievable skill-set," Weinstein said. "His athleticism, his agility, his power, his raw arm strength -- he's got everything you need to excel on both sides."
• Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was not in the starting lineup for the third time this season on Wednesday, the others being April 7 and the second game of a doubleheader on April 16. But he did pinch-hit, going 1-for-2 with a run scored.
Weiss said Wednesday was a planned day off for Tulowitzki, and that when a doubleheader Tuesday was necessitated by Monday's postponement, Tulowitzki said he wanted to play both games and stay with the plan of taking Wednesday off.
The Braves won the second game, 10-2, breaking the game open with a four-run ninth. Asked whether he considered taking Tulowitzki out of the game on a cold night, Weiss said, "I thought about it, but I think it was 7-1 in the seventh or eighth [actually 6-1]. I thought he might hit an eight-run homer at some point."
• The Rockies played two doubleheaders in seven days for the second time in their history. The only other time was on Aug. 13 and Aug. 15, 1999, against Montreal. Before Tuesday, the last time the Rockies were swept by the Braves in a doubleheader was May 8, 2003, at Turner Field, where the Braves won 12-6 and 5-2.
• Michael Cuddyer and Josh Rutledge hit back-to-back homers in the second inning. It's the first time the Rockies have done that this season.
Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.