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07/22/08 9:26 PM ET

Francisco pitching well despite role

Manager Washington not ready to slot righty in late innings

CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington brought right-handed reliever Frank Francisco in to pitch the seventh inning Monday night against the White Sox, a role usually reserved for Jamey Wright.

Francisco has been effective recently, not allowing a run in 13 of his last 14 appearances. And while Washington is pleased with Francisco's performance, the seventh-inning role will still be reserved for Wright.

"Frankie came in the seventh last night because the matchups were good for him," Washington said. "He went out there and did what the numbers said. Sometimes those numbers take you down the wrong road; sometimes they take you down the right road."

When a Rangers starter lasts through six innings, Washington will continue using Wright, followed by Eddie Guardado and C.J. Wilson in the eighth and ninth innings.

The reason, Washington said, is because Wright is more experienced, while Francisco is still moving his way up.

"When Jamey has had a workload, I have no problem going to Frankie," Washington said. "But if Jamey is rested and ready to go, and we took the starter out in the sixth, I'm going to Jamey."

Francisco's nearly 5/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best among the team's relievers with at least 20 appearances this season. His 3.40 ERA is a significant improvement from the 4.55 mark he posted in 59 1/3 innings last season.

"We've been on him since Spring Training to try and elevate his secondary stuff," Washington said. "Every day he goes out there and he tries to work on his secondary stuff, and if you can visualize back to the times he's been good -- I mean really good -- it's because he's been able to get his secondary stuff over the plate like he did last night.

"When you get the [curveball and split-finger] over, how can you sit on his fastball? And there's the difference. ... They can't just sit on that heat, because in the back of their mind, something else might come, so now they may be a little late on that heat. Now he can get strikeouts."

Unless Washington decides Wright cannot handle the seventh-inning duty, though, Francisco will have to wait for a specific bullpen role.

David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.