Collins: Francisco 'still the closer' for Mets

Collins: Francisco 'still the closer' for Mets

NEW YORK -- The vote of confidence came Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after Mets manager Terry Collins yanked closer Frank Francisco from a save situation. Francisco assured Collins that the left knee discomfort that had bothered him during Spring Training is not an issue, with Collins later confirming that Francisco is still the closer.

"Everybody wants to hear something positive," Collins said. "I just went to him this morning and said, 'You've got to hang in there.' He's disappointed. He's mad at me because I took him out, which is a common thing. It happens. I certainly don't blame him. If I was in his shoes, I'd be mad at me, too."

With the Mets clinging to a two-run lead in the ninth inning Saturday, Collins pulled Francisco after he allowed three of the first four batters he faced to reach base. Francisco has allowed six earned runs over his last three outings, a span of 2 1/3 innings, though both he and his manager insist the closer's balky left knee is no longer bothering him.

Jon Rauch, meanwhile, boasts significant closing experience and has not allowed an earned run over his first nine outings. Rauch would have notched the save Saturday had Kirk Nieuwenhuis not overrun a potential game-ending popup in shallow center field.

But the Mets signed Francisco this winter to a two-year, $12 million deal to be their closer, and that much will not change after a few poor outings.

"I just told him [Saturday] was one of those days," Collins said. "He's still the closer here, and he'll be ready to pitch when we get him back out there."