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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Francis denied Olympic spot
Jeff Francis
Francis is tipped for a big future
Canada's Olympic baseball hopes were hit when Jeff Francis was refused permission to join the squad.

The left-handed pitcher has been plying his trade in the minor leagues, but the Colorado Rockies insist he will not travel to Greece.

"Obviously everybody would love to play for their country in the Olympics, but maybe it means there is something else in store," the 23-year-old said.

Canada warmed up for Athens with a tour of Italy where they beat Cuba 9-1.

Francis is the second big-name in the squad to miss out on the Olympics with slugger Justin Morneau now the starting first baseman for the Minnesota Twins.

"We are disappointed with the decision the Rockies have made, as we felt the Olympics would be a tremendous opportunity for Jeff, however, we respect and accept Colorado's decision," said Greg Hamilton, director of national teams for Baseball Canada.

"We've faced adversity before and we remain determined to forge ahead with the strong talent assembled," added manager Ernie Whitt.

"We have alternatives in place which we will implement in the best interests of our team and we will carry forward with our quest for success in Athens."

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