2/12/2013 3:56 P.M. ET
Inflammation in elbow keeping Francisco off mound
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though Frank Francisco reported to camp punctually on Tuesday, lingering health issues may prevent him from toeing a rubber any time soon.
It's a situation that could ultimately cost him his job.
Francisco, the incumbent closer, said that his right elbow is still inflamed following the operation he underwent in December to remove a bone spur. The right-hander tried throwing last week, without success, and the training staff has since advised him to cease all activity until the inflammation subsides.
He cannot estimate when that might be.
"I don't know," Francisco said. "The trainers are going to let me know when. We're going to talk and see day by day how I feel, how I progress, and then we'll decide."
Francisco might have avoided this situation altogether had he simply undergone surgery at the end of the season, but he said that both an initial MRI and a second opinion found nothing amiss. It was not until December, when he told a doctor that he was still feeling discomfort, that he discovered the bone spur.
Even before Francisco reported to camp in poor health, the Mets appeared to be wavering about his ability to adequately perform ninth-inning duties. Though he only blew three saves in 26 chances last season, Francisco posted a 5.53 ERA and was removed from multiple other save situations.
If Francisco is not ready for Opening Day, the Mets will turn to either Bobby Parnell or Brandon Lyon, both of whom have closed out games in the past. Lyon appears to be more of a short-term patch, as the Mets still view Parnell as their closer of the future.
"I'm not really saying, 'Hey, I want to be the closer here,'" Lyon said. "That's not where I'm at. That's never been my idea as a player. I just want to go out and help the team win and let other people decide."
Ultimately, the decision will fall to manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen.
"Frank told me last week, 'I'll be ready,'" Collins said. "Dan and I have picked some dates that we think are going to be important so that we know he'll have the innings necessary to be ready for the season. If he meets those dates, I think he'll be on track. If he doesn't, we'll have to look in other directions."
Collins needs no contract guarantees
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Despite a losing record and fourth-place finish two years ago, the Mets had no qualms about exercising the 2013 option on manager Terry Collins' contract even before the 2012 season began.
Now, following a second consecutive losing record and fourth-place finish under Collins' watch, the team is proceeding more cautiously. Collins will enter this season on an expiring contract, with no assurances that he will stick around past 2013.
"I don't need any guarantees," Collins said. "You go do your job. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do my job each and every day. I'm not going to worry about having a tough loss or anything else. I've got a job to do, and I'm going to go do it. I can't worry about the future. I don't care about the future. I only care about today."
Most experts expect the Mets to have another losing record and fourth-place finish in 2013. So to retain his job, Collins will need to prove he is the right man to mold a growing core of talented young players -- Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d'Arnaud, et al -- into perennial playoff contenders.
"I have nothing to prove to myself," Collins said. "I love what I do. I have a blast what I do. I think I do a pretty good job at it. I work hard at it. But I also know that you turn it over to the guys that play, and my job's to get them ready to play. I've got to do a better job of it, because it wasn't good enough last year."
Wright's captaincy would come with little fanfare
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though the Mets are still considering naming David Wright the fourth official captain in franchise history, they do not plan to make any sort of spectacle of it.
Manager Terry Collins echoed a recent comment made by chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon that Wright does not need an embroidered "C" to command the respect of his teammates. Still, it would be a symbolic gesture for the face of the franchise, whose new contract keeps him under team control through the 2020 season.
"He knows he's the guy," Collins said. "He knows he's the man here. This is his team. He's the face of it. He's the captain. Does he need a 'C' on his jersey? [Derek Jeter] doesn't have a 'C' on his jersey. So I don't think it's necessarily that important. Are we going to have a press conference to make David Wright the captain? I don't see one coming. But that's not saying it's not going to happen."
Feliciano says Mets camp 'feels like home'
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Looking back, Pedro Feliciano still does not believe that overuse contributed to the shoulder injury that derailed his career. He was, after all, the one asking to be overused.
"I never felt tight," Feliciano said of his most recent stint with the Mets, from 2006-10. "I never felt fatigued. I was always ready. I always wanted to pitch. I can't say that I was ever overused. I remember going to manager [Jerry Manuel] and saying, 'I want to pitch. I want to break my record. I wanted to pitch in all the games.'"
In 2008, Feliciano set the franchise record for appearances, with 86, then reset it with 88 appearances in 2009 and 92 in '10. He parlayed that durability into a lucrative two-year contract from the Yankees, but he never pitched across town due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said at the time that Feliciano was "abused" during his tenure with the Mets; Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen revealed that his club did not pursue Feliciano in part because of the heavy workload.
Stung by those comments, Feliciano sought out Warthen upon arriving in camp on Monday, after rejoining the club on a Minor League contract. The left-hander said that Warthen did not apologize for his comments, nor did he need to.
"It was just stuff that I heard that he said, but who cares?" said Feliciano, who will earn $1 million plus incentives if he makes the team. "We're friends. He wants to help me, and I'll be here for him to help me."
As for being back in Port St. Lucie following a two-year absence, Feliciano admitted that he never expected to return.
"It feels weird," he said. "But it feels like home."