NEW YORK -- The Mets may be closer to getting one of their prized relief arms back in the fold. Erstwhile closer Frank Francisco, sidelined by offseason surgery to remove a bone chip from his pitching elbow, has passed a big test by being able to pitch in back-to-back games.
Francisco has made four scoreless appearances for Class A St. Lucie, and he served notice over the last two days by throwing scoreless innings in consecutive games. Francisco blanked Daytona on both Sunday and Monday, giving the Mets something to think about.
"I know we want to see how he bounces back," said manager Terry Collins. "The reports are that his velocity's been good. His command's been pretty good. I haven't talked to [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] to see what they want to do as far as when they want to move him. Obviously, going back-to-back days, it's probably going to be a couple days break before he has to pitch again."
Francisco, 33 years old, pitched to a 1-3 record with 23 saves and a 5.53 ERA last season, but Collins said he'll have to earn the ninth inning all over again. Current closer Bobby Parnell has posted a 1.38 ERA in his first 13 appearances, and he's finished 10 of the 13 games he's pitched.
Collins isn't sure when Francisco will be back with the Mets, but he looks forward to having more depth in his bullpen. Everything else, said Collins, will take care of itself in time.
"Frankie's got to show us that he can pitch back-to-back days up here," he said of Francisco's ability to seize the closer's role. "We're talking three days in a row. Can he do that? The one thing I don't think we're ready to do is start to juggle our bullpen at this particular moment. Bobby's doing such a good job. We'll wait until Frankie gets here and then we'll make those determinations."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.