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Francis: Start in Canada is 'extra special'

Francis: Start in Canada is 'extra special'

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Francis: Start in Canada is 'extra special'

TORONTO -- Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis is known for cool, even emotions, but he allowed that Tuesday night's start against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre will be meaningful.

Francis grew up on the West Coast in Vancouver and is a treasured figure in Canadian baseball circles. He also makes his offseason home in London, Ontario, just outside of Toronto. Francis won his only start at Rogers Centre, when he pitched for the Royals and held the Jays to two runs and six hits in six innings of a 9-6 victory on Aug. 25, 2011.

"It was fun, there were a lot of people here," said Francis, who set up a group-ticket plan and expects 15 or so friends and family members. "And any time I get to face a team where it's on TV across the country and they can watch, it's fun. You want to have a good game every time, but sometimes it's a little extra special."

Francis (2-4, 5.87 ERA) was strong in his last outing, striking out eight in six innings, but he didn't figure in the decision in the Rockies' 5-4 loss to the Nationals on Thursday. The loss, as well as the loss of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for 4-6 weeks because of a broken rib on the right side, overshadowed the result. But Francis can take with him a sense of success, especially when it came to using his curveball.

"I certainly had it going that day. I had a good rhythm, guys were making plays and I was working quick," he said. "A lot of things went my way."

Francis will be facing former teammate Esmil Rogers (2-2, 3.21 ERA in 26 games, including three starts). Rogers pitched for the Rockies from 2009-2012 before going to the Indians last season.

"I played with him here, and he was a great guy, good teammate," Francis said.

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.

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