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Reds hope Francis adds depth to rotation

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One of a handful of free agents signed by the Reds about a month before Spring Training, veteran left-hander Jeff Francis was added to provide depth in the rotation. Francis, 33, is a non-roster invite on a Minor League contract.

"They called and I thought that was good," Francis said. "Maybe there is familiarity. They've seen me here before and know what I can bring and the role I can fill potentially."

In 23 games last season with the Rockies, including 12 starts, Francis was 3-5 with a 6.27 ERA. In 2012, he was in Reds camp on a Minor League deal, but opted for his release in June while pitching at Triple-A Louisville to sign a big league deal with Colorado.

"We like what he can do. First and foremost, we feel like he's a competitive Major League pitcher," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We wanted to have depth in a place where we weren't asking a young player to come up and do something you can't really quantify what his success chances are."

The Reds' depth could be tested as frontline starter Mat Latos needed minor surgery on his left knee on Friday. Latos' readiness for Opening Day is unknown, which could open the door for Francis or someone like veteran right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who is also in camp on a Minor League contract.

Francis spent 2004-10 with the Rockies and 2011 with the Royals. He won 17 games in 2007.

"If we have something happen in Spring Training, it would be nice to be able to support our rotation with a guy that's been there, that's had success and we also think he's a great fit personally," Price said. "He blends in with what we're trying to do here, which is to create a culture of preparation, professionalism and competitiveness. He is that guy. He fits that role."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }
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