Francisco tests right elbow in throwing session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Still eyeing Opening Day as a realistic possibility, Mets closer Frank Francisco tested his balky right elbow Monday with a series of throws off flat ground.

Francisco played catch with manager Terry Collins at the Mets' Port St. Lucie complex, throwing 25 times at distances up to 60 feet. It was Francisco's first throwing session since doctors shut him down earlier this month with inflammation in his surgically repaired right elbow; the closer is scheduled to throw again on Wednesday.

"It's a step forward, for sure," Collins said. "The swelling has subsided. The discomfort has subsided. And so now we've got to take these gradual baby steps as we get closer to getting him back to where he needs to be.

"We've got five weeks. We've still got a lot of time."

The Mets have already announced that if Francisco is not ready to pitch on Opening Day, Bobby Parnell will open the season at closer. With a strong spring, Parnell could earn the job even if Francisco is healthy.