Closing Time: Juan Francisco making noise; Heath Bell saving games

When Juan Francisco hits 'em, they generally stay hit. That dude leaves no doubt.

Francisco drilled an eighth-inning grand slam over the right field wall in Cincinnati on Wednesday, blowing open the game. The homer was his fifth of the season in 79 plate appearances — and most of them have been launched.

Remember this thing off the upper-deck facade in Miami? And this moonshot against KC? And this zillion-foot bomb, back in spring training?

So yeah, Francisco is kind of a monster. He recently returned to action following an ankle injury, and he's available in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's hitting .280 for the Braves with 16 RBIs, plus he has a history of solid power numbers in the minors. Francisco rarely walks, so he figures to be a liability in OBP leagues. But the pop here is very real. Can you use 25 or so additional homers? Of course you can. Consider the add.

And don't fear the platoon set-up with Chris Johnson, because Francisco gets the best of it (he's the LHB), and you're spared a bunch of 0-for-3s. Everyone wins. You can deal with the light lineup maintenance.

The D-backs have decided that PROVEN CLOSER™ Heath Bell — not David Hernandez, not Brad Ziegler, not Matt Reynolds — will get the first shot to replace JJ Putz in the ninth. On Wednesday, Bell worked around a lead-off double by Skip Schumaker to collect his second save in as many nights. He's the guy you want in the Arizona 'pen. Be brave.

When asked about his tweaked elbow immediately after the injury, Putz offered this: "I've never felt anything like that before." Uh-oh. Buster Olney has reported that signs point to Putz needing "a major elbow operation." Brutal news.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum announced that Kevin Gregg will remain the team's closer, even after Kyuji Fujikawa returns from the DL. Of course he's assuming that Gregg won't implode hilariously before Fuji rejoins the ball club. Not sure that's a safe assumption. Still, Gregg has pitched well over the past three weeks, allowing just three hits and three walks over 7.1 innings, striking out eight batters. He's a perfect 5-for-5 on save chances so far, and he hasn't given up a hit in his last five appearances. And no, things won't always go this well for him. Just enjoy the saves, until Gregg begins to misfire.

The Roy Halladay situation is complicated in real-life, but the fantasy spin is simple: He's a drop in nearly all leagues. Halladay is going under the knife next week, having all sorts of maintenance performed on his throwing shoulder:

He announced he will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder as early as next week, when doctors plan to remove a bone spur and clean up fraying in the labrum and rotator cuff. That is serious stuff for a pitcher who turns 36 next week.

Drop, unless you have an abundance of DL spots available. Don't look back. Sorry it's come to this. Halladay sounds optimistic about returning to the mound this season, and we wish him well. But I have zero expectation for him, rest of season.

PROSPECT ALERT: On Tuesday, Marlins prospect Christian Yelich 5-for-6 at Double-A Jacksonville with a homer and a pair of triples. On Wednesday, he went 2-for-4 with a double and a two-run homer. Yelich has gone deep in each of his last three games, he's hit safely in 14 straight, and he has five multi-hit games in his last seven. Not too shabby, kid. Whenever he's called up, mixed leaguers should care.

I'm gonna trust that you understand Jason Marquis is not a player who needs to be added. Let's just forget this bullet ever took place, OK? OK.

Congratulations, Bud Norris, on becoming the first starting pitcher on the 2013 Astros to pitch into the eighth inning. Pretty sure your owners are gonna get a fantasy medal for this. Unfortunately, Norris couldn't quite go the distance, nursing a two-run lead. He allowed a pair of singles to lead-off the ninth, which led to the utterance of the five scariest words in baseball: "Jose Veras enters the game."

But things actually worked out just fine for the Astros. Veras struck out Mark Trumbo, then HBP'd Josh Hamilton, and then coaxed a 6-4-3 double-play. Ball game. Another Houston win.

Chris Perez tried to blow a save on Wednesday, but the umps were having none of it. Adam Rosales' two-out blast to left-center in the ninth was ruled a double on the field, yet replays clearly showed the ball striking a metal railing above the wall, then bouncing back into the field of play. See it for yourself right here. Somehow, even after video review, the umps didn't give Rosales the homer. Of course Angel Hernandez was involved.

If you're facing a Perez owner in head-to-head this week, feel free to file a complaint below. So sorry.

Conor Gillaspie was hitting clean-up for the White Sox on Wednesday, which maybe tells you how things are going for Chicago. Gillaspie went 2-for-4, raising his average to .291. There's not much power to be found in his minor league stats (14 HR in the PCL at age 24) and he projects as a .275-ish bat, so ... yeah. Time to move on.

Ricky Romero recorded just one out against the Rays on Wednesday, yielding four hits, two walks and three earned run. He's lost 15 of his last 16 decisions. [Expletive]. We used to write sonnets about that guy.

Not a great night for the Red Sox, as buzzy young pitcher Allen Webster was rocked by the Twins. When Webster checked out in the second, he'd retired only five batters and he'd given up seven runs. Ryan Doumit and Pedro Florimon both homered off the right-hander. Florimon's home run was his first since third-grade kickball.

Oswaldo Arcia went 4-for-5 for Minnesota, scoring one run and driving in another, raising his average to an even .300. Arcia was 13-for-33 with three homers at Triple-A Rochester before his April promotion. Last year, he had 61 extra-base hits (17 HR) across two minor league levels, while batting .320/.388/.539. If you're looking to add, I won't argue.

OK, one final item for you: Curtis Granderson (forearm) is expected to begin a Triple-A rehab assignment on Thursday, facing Gerrit Cole and the Indianapolis Indians. If all goes well, Granderson could rejoin the Yankees next week.

In other Yankees news, look who's easing back into light workouts in Florida...

Alex Rodriguez has been cleared for baseball activities, though he hasn't put a firm timetable on his return from hip surgery. Details here from

Rodriguez could be in Tampa for quite some time. He said Monday began a 30-day plan put together by his doctors and the Yanks, and they will re-evaluate where he stands after that. It's likely that Rodriguez would then begin another 30-day schedule, putting him in line to return some time after the All-Star break.

Rodriguez said he didn't want to set a timetable regarding his comeback, instead focusing on the plan for each day. He wouldn't even say for certain that he'll be back on the field this season.

We really have no idea what the 37-year-old might be capable of doing when he returns, if he returns. He was a mess in the post-season last year, you'll recall (3-for-25, 0 XBH, 12 Ks). And of course the Biogenesis thing still hangs out there. No shortage of red flags with this guy. Still, I've stashed him in a pair of leagues, mostly because I hate to let DL spots go unused. Maybe he becomes a fantasy trade chip. Or maybe he actually gives us a useful month or two.

What to Read Next