Francisco has made only two appearances during Spring Training because of soreness in his right pectoral muscle. The club is optimistic he will be ready for Opening Day, but they plan on taking a cautious approach once the season begins.
That's where veteran reliever Jon Rauch will enter the fold and likely save games when Francisco needs a day off.
"We're hopeful that we're going to be in situations where we need a secondary closer," manager John Farrell said. "Where we're not going to overtax a guy three days in a row, Rauch then comes very much into that picture."
2010 Spring Training - null
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Farrell entered Spring Training with Francisco as his ideal candidate for the closer job. It's the 31-year-old's track record of being able to attack both right-handed and left-handed hitters that sticks out the most.
"I felt like Frankie might have had the edge coming in," Farrell said of Francisco, who held lefties to a .205 batting average in 2010. "That's not to say we weren't open minded and we still had to see how things played out -- and we still are -- but that's been from a personal view that's been some of the thought coming in."
Farrell has ruled out the possibility of using a closer by committee except when his main reliever needs a day off. He would prefer each member of his staff to know exactly what their role is. It's something he plans to outline before the team heads north for the start of the season.
"Once we make the final decision on the roster, we will sit down as a coaching staff ... with the whole bullpen," Farrell said. "We'll give them what our initial thoughts are on some roles and we'll give some scenarios."