New York Mets reliever Frank Francisco only started throwing off flat ground this week, and manager Terry Collins doesn't believe the former closer is going to be ready for Opening Day, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
Collins told reporters that Bobby Parnell will start the season as the team's closer with Francisco recovering from elbow inflammation. The skipper added that Parnell has the opportunity to take the role of closer and "run with it," meaning Francisco probably isn't guaranteed to get an opportunity to reclaim his former position.
There were already questions surrounding Francisco's status before it became clear that he wasn't fully healthy. The Mets signed the right-hander last offseason and he was awful in his first year in the Big Apple. He struggled to the tune of a 5.53 ERA over 48 appearances.
Considering his rocky performance in 2012, the Mets were reportedly nervous about entering the season with Francisco as its closer. This resulted in the team being tied to potential free agent alternatives, including Jose Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez. New York eventually added Brandon Lyon on a free agent contract, but Collins maintained that Francisco was the team's closer early in February.
Francisco is under contract for $6.5 million this season. He owns a career ERA of 3.92 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.50 over eight seasons in the majors.