CINCINNATI -- Terry Collins has read all the medical reports, the ones that say that Mets closer Bobby Parnell will be fully recovered from neck surgery by the start of spring training.
Yet, none of those reassuring words can replace Collins' lingering image of the pitcher, who has dropped 30 pounds after surgery because he has not been able to eat solid food.
"When a guy walks out of the clubhouse, he's got a neck brace on, he just had neck surgery, he's pencil thin, there's a lot of work ahead," Collins said on Wednesday, before the Mets faced the Reds.
With Parnell's status thrown into doubt, the Mets intend to audition reliever Vic Black for the closer's role. With LaTroy Hawkins battling fatigue, Black picked up his first big league save in his first attempt on Tuesday night. Even if Hawkins returns to pitch again, Collins said Black will function as the set-up man.
Parnell expected a full recovery after he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. Nevertheless, Collins reiterated on Tuesday that he's concerned about the pitcher's rehab.
"All the medical reports are that, hey, look, he should be fine," Collins said. "And that's great, that's great news. And you shouldn't worry about it. But when you saw him walk out of the clubhouse the last day, you've just got to say 'man, he's got some rehab ahead of him.'"
Collins said he hopes Parnell reports early to the team's facility in Florida to begin what may be a daunting rehab process.
Said Collins: "The guy had neck surgery. He's lost 30 pounds. The word is he'll be 100 percent and I hope he is. But, I'll look forward to hearing how he's doing in December."