Frank Francisco returns, a little slimmer but with lat tightness
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SAN DIEGO -- A slimmed-down Frank Francisco arrived in the Mets' clubhouse before Friday night's game against the Padres. Asked how much weight he had lost, Francisco said, "Twenty pounds."
Francisco did look trimmer, but 20 pounds seemed like a stretch. It also seemed a bit surprising when he reported that he is not 100 percent healthy, even though the Mets activated him off the disabled list.
Francisco, who has been out since June 23 with a left oblique strain, said he has "tightness" in his right latissimus dorsi muscle (or "lat" muscle), the largest muscle in the back, just below the shoulder. Francisco tore it in 2010 when he was with Texas.
"I feel some soreness," Francisco said. "It's not in my oblique anymore. It feels like I have some soreness in my lat."
Asked if he was ready to pitch, Francisco said: "Let's see tonight. Go on the field."
General manager Sandy Alderson was asked if Francisco's new injury is a concern.
"Who knows?" Alderson said. "It's been an ongoing saga. I'm OK to pitch, but . . . fill in the blank."
Francisco did just complete a minor-league rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton that was interrupted once when he had a sore knee. He pitched an inning Tuesday and another Wednesday and was deemed ready to return.
"I pitched a couple of games," Francisco said. "Feel really good. Went back-to-back. Let's try different adrenaline tonight."
Said Alderson: "He thinks he's ready, so we're ready to roll now."
Manager Terry Collins said Francisco (1-3, 4.97 ERA, 18 saves) will reclaim his closer role from Bobby Parnell. He also said he probably won't pitch Francisco more than two days in a row at the outset.
"The issue obviously will be how much he can pitch," Collins said. "Is it going to be two days in a row and then a day off? I'm sure a lot of it will be dictated by the numbers of pitches he uses when he gets out there."
Francisco said he feels tightness in the lat muscle after he pitches, not during.
"It's something that I hope will go away pitching," he said. "I'm going to pitch through it and hope it goes away . . . I think when I hurt my oblique, I was probably compensating a little bit and that's why now I'm getting tightness in my lat."
The Mets were 39-32 when Francisco went on the DL. They were 13-22 without him.
Notes & quotes: To make room for Francisco on the roster, the Mets placed reliever Tim Byrdak on the 15-day disabled list with a sore left shoulder. Byrdak will be examined by team doctors when the Mets return to New York on Monday . . . Johan Santana will make a three-inning rehab start Sunday for Brooklyn and should return to the Mets' rotation next weekend, Alderson said, with Aug. 11 the target date. That would mean Matt Harvey would make his Citi Field debut next Friday . . . Kirk Nieuwenhuis suffered what the Mets believe is a torn plantar fascia in his right foot at Triple-A Buffalo, Alderson said. He will be evaluated in the next few days . . . Daniel Murphy, who was hit on the wrist Thursday, was not in the lineup against lefthander Clayton Richard. Ronny Cedeño, who had five RBIs Thursday, started at second base . . . The Mets and Padres wore uniforms from 1989 as PETCO Park hosted a 1980s night.