NEW YORK -- Though Frank Francisco continues to struggle through a bout of right elbow tendinitis, the Mets have not yet decided to shut their closer down for the season.
Francisco was sporting a heavy wrap on his elbow Monday afternoon, but could still pitch before the end of the season if his symptoms subside.
"It's tendinitis. It's not any structural thing," manager Terry Collins said. "If that goes away, as long as his muscles are intact, all the tendons and everything else, there's no reason why he shouldn't be able to pitch."
Under contract for $6.5 million next season, Francisco should return as the team's closer as long as he is healthy. But he has endured multiple injuries this season, from a swollen right knee that needed draining in Spring Training to a strained left oblique that cost him all of July. Francisco has had at least one stint on the disabled list in each of the past four seasons, prompting Collins to say recently that the Mets would like to find a dedicated substitute closer next spring.
For now, Jon Rauch should see most of the team's save opportunities with Francisco sidelined. The Mets tried Josh Edgin out at closer last week, but have since shut him down due to workload concerns. Bobby Parnell served as the team's interim ninth-inning man when Francisco was on the DL earlier this year, but the Mets appear more comfortable with him in a setup role.
Collins has also said, however, that he would like to see how rookie Jeurys Familia reacts to higher-leverage situations over the final days of the season. That could mean a save opportunity or two down the stretch if Francisco remains unavailable and the situation is right.