07/21/12 12:15 AM ET
Francisco nears rehab stint; return to Mets close
By Steven Miller, Adam Rosenbloom and Ethan Asofsky / MLB.com
Manager Terry Collins said that Francisco, who has been sidelined since June 23 with a strained left oblique muscle, will rest on Saturday and throw off a mound on Sunday. The skipper said that if all goes well, Francisco will begin his Minor League rehab assignment next Friday.
"If I have my command, I can go in two games," Francisco said about the potential length of his assignment. "That's all I need. If I can control the baseball, I'll be fine."
As to whether or not his lingering soreness will have an effect on his velocity, Francisco said he isn't too worried.
"I don't really worry that much about my velocity," Francisco said. "The key for me is the command, control of the baseball. If I can hit my spot and locate my pitches, I'll be OK."
Bobby Parnell has stepped into the closer's role in Francisco's absence but has blown each of his two most recent save opportunities, the latest coming on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Parnell pitched the ninth inning of New York's 9-5 win over the Nationals on Thursday but surrendered a run on two hits.
"When you've got that kind of stuff, you've got to make the hitters a little bit more uncomfortable than he has made them," Collins said of Parnell on Wednesday. "Frankie is one of those guys that works both sides of the plate with his fastball. It keeps them a little more off balance."
Mets seek rest for Johan; DL stint possible
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Jeremy Hefner will join the Mets on Saturday, the club announced after its 7-6 loss to the Dodgers on Friday, but his role is unclear. The Mets will not announce a corresponding roster move until Saturday, but it very well could be a trip to the disabled list for lefty Johan Santana, who gave up six runs over three innings on Friday.
Manager Terry Collins said after the game that Santana is "not hurt" but added that he would discuss methods of restoring energy to the left arm of Santana, who has struggled in his past eight starts. He has a 6.54 ERA since throwing a no-hitter on June 1 against the Cardinals.
"Do you want to skip him one start?" Collins said. "If you put him on the DL, you skip him two starts. All of those things will be talked about."
Hefner can join the Mets' rotation in Santana's place or pitch out of the bullpen, providing relief to a unit the club leaned on for six innings in its series opener against the Dodgers.
Hefner appeared in 11 games -- making three starts -- for the Mets earlier this season before being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. The righty has started three games since returning to Buffalo, allowing five runs in 15 1/3 innings.
Collins said that knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday, would be available out of the 'pen for New York's 1:10 p.m. ET contest.
Physical activity limited, but Gee visits Mets
NEW YORK -- Dillon Gee isn't much of a reader, so his time away from baseball since he was placed on the disabled list with a blood clot in his right shoulder has boiled down to a couch, a remote control and terrible hospital food.
On Tuesday, Gee returned from St. Louis -- where he underwent the procedure to repair the clot -- and made his way back to the Mets' clubhouse on Friday, excited to finally be back with his teammates.
Despite orders that he can't exercise for nearly three weeks or throw for a minimum of six weeks, Gee was in good spirits on Friday. Right now, that seems like a good deal for the right-handed starter, who feared death after the initial diagnosis until doctors assured him he'd make a full recovery.
"I've been telling these guys I've been watching them on TV," Gee said. "Just to be able to come back from the clubhouse and hang out with them and say hi to them means a lot. I'm glad I could be here."
Gee will have two follow-up appointments with doctors over the next six weeks, but until his next appointment, the blood thinners and painkillers he's been prescribed prevent him from strenuous activity. No running, throwing or lifting is allowed. Gee said he did take a 30- to 45-minute walk on Thursday to avoid getting covered in the dust of his apartment, but outside of staying mobile, he has severe limitations in terms of what he can do.
For his sake, Gee hopes the Mets' clubhouse will be a source of entertainment until he can start running and getting back in shape three weeks from now. At the moment, he has no plans to travel with the team, but he might make a trip back to his home in Cleburne, Texas.
"I went from being kind of scared at first to really disappointed," Gee said. "It's tough. I've been on the DL before, in 2009. It's just really hard to watch the team play, and you not being able to help."
While the soreness is subsiding in his shoulder, Gee is still in discomfort from the five-inch incision in his left groin and the three times doctors punctured his right groin to feed a catheter to his shoulder for his angiogram. That procedure was done at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where Gee had the artery cleared before moving to St. Louis to fix the damage in his shoulder with a different surgeon.
Gee said that once he has waited six to eight weeks and been cleared to begin throwing, he could be ready fairly quickly if the Mets decided to push him to come back. He acknowledged that the process will likely resemble preparing for a season during Spring Training, but he could return in less than the usual few months it takes to get his arm in shape.
"I feel better than I did," Gee said. "I'm still pretty sore from all the procedures, but I'm on the road to recovery."
The Mets' bullpen, which held a National League-worst 5.03 ERA entering Friday's series opener against the Dodgers, had allowed at least one run in five of New York's six games since the All-Star break.
Andres Torres, who started in center field on Friday, hit in each of the Mets' first six games after the All-Star break. He batted .476 (10-for-21) with four RBIs during that span.
Steven Miller, Adam Rosenbloom and Ethan Asofsky are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.