DENVER -- Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis, placed on the disabled list Thursday with a left groin strain, rode a stationary bike and did some throwing Friday in an effort to stay sharp and possibly shorten his time out of action.
Francis sustained the injury in the second inning of Tuesday's 9-4 victory over the Cubs. Despite the pain, Francis held the Cubs to one run on three hits in six innings.
Francis said head athletic trainer Keith Dugger told him it would take 5-7 days for his groin to heal. Between now and then, the plan is to keep his arm in shape.
Francis is 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA. Many of his early-season starts were in snowy or rainy weather.
Rockies seek more of the same from Chatwood
DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood left a stunning last impression the last time he was in the Majors -- six scoreless innings in a 12-2 victory over the Dodgers on April 29. Now the Rockies are counting on him to do the same Saturday.
Chatwood, who was sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs after his impressive outing, rejoined the Rockies on Friday and will be activated to start Saturday against the Giants in the third game of a four-game set at Coors Field. Righty Juan Nicasio was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday, but his start has been moved to Sunday.
The Rockies sent Chatwood down after his start against the Dodgers because Jhoulys Chacin made his return from the disabled list with a back strain. Chatwood didn't sulk by any means. He threw a four-hit shutout of Iowa in his first start -- the first nine-inning, complete-game shutout by a Colorado Springs pitcher at home since 2003. Chatwood didn't fare as well in his next start -- 11 hits and seven runs -- but there were reports that he threw a high percentage of strikes and pitched far better than the numbers.
"Anytime you go down, you want to prove yourself and keep proving yourself," said Chatwood, 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts during his first callup. "I was just trying to go out there and make pitches.
"It's just commanding the zone with every pitch. Throwing everything for strikes is the biggest thing."
For Chatwood, 23, filling the roster spot of injured lefty Jeff Francis (left groin strain), this is a new chance to stick after bouncing between the Majors and Minors with the Angels (2011) and Rockies (2012-13). Also, he was considered either a starter or reliever as recently as Spring Training. Once and for all, Chatwood can forge a future in his preferred role.
"I've been a starter my whole career, I'm used to that and that's what I'm comfortable doing," Chatwood said. "That's what I feel like I need to do."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he was happy with Chatwood's work in Colorado Springs.
"His command has been much better, and he was throwing the ball well down there," Weiss said. "His last outing, his numbers weren't great but our reports were he threw the ball better than the numbers dictated. I like the way he competes."
Most likely, the club will return right-handed reliever Rob Scahill, who was called up to replace Francis and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Thursday night's 8-6 loss to the Giants, to Colorado Springs when Chatwood is activated. Scahill has thrown 5 1/3 scoreless innings and given up two hits and struck out two during to call-ups this season.
Nicasio's start bumped to Sunday
DENVER -- By calling up Tyler Chatwood to pitch Saturday, the Rockies will give right-hander Juan Nicasio an extra day's rest. Nicasio, who has struggled on and off this season, will start Sunday in the finale of the four-game set with the Giants.
Nicasio (3-1, 5.13 ERA) threw six innings in his last start -- the longest he's lasted since his first start of the season. However, he gave up five early runs in a 5-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Nicasio is a power pitcher who is searching for the sharpness that could make him highly effective.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the club sees the potential during bullpen sessions.
"Juan is clear as far as the things he needs to work on," Weiss said. "He throws great bullpens. It's a matter of taking that into the game."
Helton, Arrenado homers have place in MLB lore
DENVER -- The consecutive second-inning home runs Thursday by Rockies veteran first baseman Todd Helton and rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado produced some age-difference trivia.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research Home Run Log, just eight times in Major League history, when it comes to back-to-back homers, has there been an age difference greater than the 17 years between Helton, 39, and Arenado, 22.
The greatest difference was 21 years, when the Giants' Hank Sauer, 41, and Orlando Cepeda, 20, went deep against the Giants on April 19, 1958. Three times has the difference been 20 years -- twice involving the Giants' Chris Speier, 20, and Willie Mays, 40, on May 14 and May 26, 1971, both times against the Dodgers. The other 20-year split came, famously, on Sept. 14, 1990, when Ken Griffey Sr., 40, homered in front of his 20-year-old son against the Angels.
The Reds' Frank Robinson was 20 and Bob Thurman was 39 when they homered against the Braves on Aug. 18, 1956. The 18-year differences involved the Red Sox's Gary Geiger, 23, and Ted Williams, 41, on July 27, 1960 against the White Sox; the Giants' Jack Clark, 23, and Willie McCovey, 41, against the Cubs on June 2, 1979' and the Phillies' Lou Marson, 22, and Matt Stairs, 40, against the Nationals on Sept. 28, 2008.
The 17-year gap between Helton and Arenado matched the differences of the Cardinals' Peanuts Lowrey, 35, and Dick Schofield, 17, against the Giants on Aug. 26, 1953; the Royals' Hal McRae, 41, and Bo Jackson, 24, against the Indians on May 2, 1984; the Tigers' Darrell Evans, 40, and Matt Nokes, 23, twice -- against the Indians on Sept. 1, 1987, and against the Orioles on Sept. 23, 1988 when each was a year older; the Blue Jays' Dave Winfield, 40, and John Olerud, 23, against the Indians on June 26, 1992; the Angles' Mike Trout, 20, and Torii Hunter, 37, against the Royals last July 25; and the Braves' Jason Heyward, 23, and Chipper Jones, 40, against the Padres last Aug. 16.
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.