White Sox add Francisco, but hope to hang on to Cleto

White Sox add Francisco, but hope to hang on to Cleto
May 10, 2014, 2:00 pm
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The White Sox didn't want to risk losing Maikel Cleto, but the right-hander's control issues and lack of effectiveness ultimately forced the team's hand.

Prior to Saturday's game against Arizona, the White Sox designated Cleto for assignment and purchased the contract of veteran right-hander Frank Francisco from Triple-A Charlotte. In 14 innings with the White Sox this season, Cleto walked 15 and allowed eight earned runs.

Still, Mark Parent — who's filling in as manager while Robin Ventura is attending his daughter's graduation from Oklahoma State — said Cleto "came a long way" with the White Sox.

"We’d like to keep him in our organization," Parent said.

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Cleto gave up five runs against the Cubs Thursday night, hitting Welington Castillo with the bases loaded and serving up a grand slam to Mike Olt. Those runs ended a streak of 23 2/3 scoreless innings by the White Sox bullpen.

The 34-year-old Francisco was brought up to stabilize the front end of the White Sox bullpen, which overall has been good recently outside of Cleto's struggles. In eight innings with Triple-A Charlotte, Francisco didn't allow a run with 12 strikeouts and one walk.

Francisco, who previously spent about a year in the White Sox farm system and was dealt to Texas in July 2003 as part of the first Carl Everett trade, said he used his time in Charlotte to build up his arm strength and endurance. Francisco signed with the White Sox as a minor league free agent April 14.

"I just thought about getting an opportunity to get back in baseball, get the right fit for me in an organization and go and compete," Francisco said.

In nine major league seasons spent between the Rangers, Blue Jays and Mets, Francisco has a 3.93 ERA with 421 strikeouts, 169 walks and 39 home runs allowed over 382 2/3 innings. He signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Mets prior to the 2012 season but dealt with a slew of injuries, limiting him to a 5.36 ERA over 48 2/3 innings.

Francisco primarily throws a mid-to-low 90's fastball and a splitter, occasionally mixing in a curveball.