Lefty Francis to start at Triple-A Louisville

Lefty Francis to start at Triple-A Louisville

Lefty Francis to start at Triple-A Louisville
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds moved another step closer to a final roster on Sunday when left-hander Jeff Francis was told he was beginning the season at Triple-A Louisville.

That leaves the Reds with 26 healthy players in camp, including 11 pitchers. General manager Walt Jocketty declined to say if the club's plan was to start with 11 or 12 pitchers. The team is short in the bullpen because of injuries to closer Ryan Madson and setup man Nick Masset.

"We haven't made that decision yet," Jocketty said. "We've got the roster pretty well figured out, but we'll probably have it ready for you [Monday] morning."

The deadline to turn in a final 25-man roster is 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Francis, a former Rockies and Royals starter who signed a Minor League deal with Cincinnati in January, posted a 6.65 ERA with two walks and 14 strikeouts in six spring games, including three starts. Two outings ago, he had a disastrous 11-run, 11-hit start over three innings against the Rangers. But he rebounded on Saturday against the Giants by giving up two runs and three hits over seven innings.

"Francis will go to Triple-A to start," Jocketty said. "I kind of told him that the other day. There's still a possibility he could pitch in the bullpen, but we decided to send him there because we need to have a starter available in case something happens. He pitched well enough where he would certainly be that guy. He had a good spring other than that one outing."