Frank Francisco's elbow acting up; Bobby Parnell inherits Mets' closer role

New York Mets' Bobby Parnell #39 walks back

New York Mets' Bobby Parnell #39 walks back to the dugout during a 2011 game against the Cubs. (Sept. 10, 2011) (Credit: John Dunn)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets closer Frank Francisco began the new season exactly the same way he ended last season: on the shelf with a balky right elbow while another pitcher takes on his job.

Manager Terry Collins told WFAN Tuesday that righthander Bobby Parnell will step in as Francisco works his way back from a lingering elbow issue.

Asked whether he was close to 100 percent, Francisco smiled before offering this sobering evaluation: "I'm [at] zero."

Francisco is battling inflammation that isn't considered serious. But it comes on the heels of surgery in December to remove a bone spur, which had caused the pain that sidelined Francisco.

"We just want to quiet the swelling down until he plays some catch," Collins said.

Francisco's hold on the closer's job had already appeared tenuous. Even when healthy last season, Francisco struggled, posting a 5.53 ERA and 23 saves. He was eventually supplanted by Parnell, who had seven saves with a 2.49 ERA.

Collins also said Brandon Lyon could be a candidate to finish games since he has experience.

Francisco said he'd be comfortable with whatever decision the coaching staff makes about his role. "They are the boss," said Francisco, who is in the second season of a two-year, $12-million deal.

Notes & quotes: A source said the Mets expect pitcher Jenrry Mejia's visa issues to be resolved within a few days. Mejia is expected to be used as a starter . . . Collins has scheduled a team-building exercise, which will consist of a bowling outing . . . David Wright likely won't be named a team captain . . . Collins is entering the final season of his contract, though he played down his status as a lame-duck manager. "I don't need any guarantees," Collins said.

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