Francisco underwent surgery on December 18, 2012 to have a bone spur cleaned out of his right elbow. It has taken longer than anticipated for the veteran to get back into the swing of things. However, the good news is that doctors examined his elbow at the end of April and found no structural damage.
The 33-year-old has been pitching well in his rehab assignment, which means it is only a matter of time until he returns to the big leagues. He pitched in back-to-back games recently for the first time this year, and has tossed four scoreless outings in Single-A. He will make at least one more rehab appearance before the Mets decide to activate him off the disabled list.
“I know we want to see how he bounces back,” manager Terry Collins told Mets.com. “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 was the closer for New York last season and the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011. Over the two-year span, he recorded 40 saves in 47 opportunities. With that being said, if Francisco believes he will automatically be given the closer job when he returns to the bullpen, he has another thing coming.
Bobby Parnell has done a terrific job in the closer role this season. He is 2-0 with a 1.38 earned run average, 11 strikeouts, three saves in five opportunities and a .143 opponent’s batting average in 13 innings. As of right now, there is no reason to move Parnell out of the closer spot considering how well he is pitching.
Francisco will get his opportunity in the bullpen at some point this season, especially since New York is paying him $6 million. However, it will most likely be a situational role just so he can ease into pitching in the big leagues again.
The Dominican Republic native went 1-3 with a 5.53 ERA and 23 saves in 42 1/3 innings last season.