4/28/2013 1:32 P.M. ET
Mets keeping close eye on Francisco's progress
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Mets still aren't quite sure what to expect from Frank Francisco. Francisco, the team's erstwhile closer, is still recovering from offseason surgery to remove a bone chip from his pitching elbow, and manager Terry Collins said Sunday that only time will tell.
"We've had him looked at by the doctors," Collins said. "They've certainly said there are no other structural issues at hand. He's the only one who can tell us how he feels. Nobody else knows. The chip's been taken care of. It's just a matter now of having his arm respond to the rigors of throwing a lot."
Francisco pitched to a 1-3 record with a 5.53 ERA and 23 saves last season, and Collins said he's been watched carefully at the team's Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Francisco threw 25 pitches on Saturday, but Collins said he felt OK and wasn't ready to progress.
At this point, said Collins, the Mets can't really tell how far along he is in his recovery. If the 32-year-old can only throw one day at a time, he said, it will be a while before he's able to return.
"He's got to be able to throw back-to-back days, which he has not even gotten close to yet," said Collins of Francisco. "We need to do that, and then we can put a timetable on it."
Back in third slot, Wright OK hitting anywhere
NEW YORK -- David Wright doesn't mince words, and he'll tell you exactly what he thinks about where he fits in the lineup. And in this case, he doesn't care. Wright is happy to hit third or cleanup for the Mets, but he doesn't think his spot in the batting order has any impact on how he hits.
"When I say zero, it makes about zero difference to me," he said on Sunday. "Whatever Skip thinks will make us click. After the first inning, you have no idea where you're going to be hitting. Sometimes, I think people make a bigger deal of it than it really is. When I got called up, I was hitting seventh. I've hit second, third, fourth and fifth. To me, it doesn't really make that much of a difference."
It may not have great impact for Wright, but it certainly makes a difference to the Mets. New York ranks as the third-highest scoring team in the National League, but it's hit a bit of a dead spot.
The Mets have scored four runs or fewer in five of their last six games, and the team's recent power outage forced manager Terry Collins to juggle his lineup. Wright hit cleanup on Friday and Saturday before moving back to the third slot Sunday, and Collins said that wasn't a coincidence.
"We're not scoring," said Collins on Sunday. "What did we do when we scored? We had David hitting third. So I'm going to put him back there, and we'll fill in behind him. We can't ride one horse here. This takes a whole team. There will be other guys that have got to drive some runs in."
Collins said Sunday that he met with his coaching staff to discuss why the team hasn't hit in recent games, and Wright's spot in the order was a natural topic of discussion. But more importantly, said Collins, is the fact that his players maintain the same approach no matter how they're hitting.
"We've accomplished pretty much the approach we want," he said. "We've worked the starting pitchers and got ourselves in situations. We just haven't driven in runs. We've had guys on base. We could've scored more runs. We just didn't. That's all the ups and downs of the game."
Wright had his own take on that situation, and he made sure to credit the Phillies for pitching well in the first two games of the series. The All-Star third baseman said the Mets started out hot and had to level off at some point, but he also said there's no reason they can't get back on a roll.
"I think it wasn't likely that we were going to maintain the pace that we were on. At one point, I think we were leading the league in runs," Wright said. "Coming into the year, we expected to have a good offense, but I don't know if we expected to lead the league in runs. At some point, you're going to have to even, and you're going to have some stinkers where you don't feel like you can get anything going. Some of the credit obviously goes to the pitchers that we've faced. But some of it is on us for not producing. Some days you get hits and some days you don't. It's tough to explain."
Many factors go into Collins' thinking for lineup
NEW YORK -- When a team isn't hitting well, it gives the manager license to shake things up. Manager Terry Collins hasn't gone to that extreme with the Mets yet, but he might be close. Collins, in choosing his Sunday lineup, was unapologetic in leaning heavily on past performance splits.
Collins got Ike Davis in the lineup Sunday because the first baseman is a career .316 (6-for-19) hitter against Hamels, and he started second baseman Daniel Murphy (.300) for a similar reason. Collins, in all, had three lefties in his lineup against Cole Hamels as the Mets sought to avoid a sweep.
"When you're not swinging, you look at the numbers against Cole Hamels," Collins said. "We've got three guys that hit him pretty good. Two of them are left-handed. We wanted them in there, but Ike's just not swinging like he can. It's pretty tough to look at the matchups when you're not hitting good."
Collins kept Davis in the seventh slot of the lineup on Sunday, and he penciled Lucas Duda in fifth despite the veteran's track record (1-for-10) against Hamels. Collins also got rookie Juan Lagares in for his second career start, but in that latter case, defense was the team's main consideration.
The Mets haven't gotten much offense out of center field this year, and Collins said there is a growing sentiment that the team should play Lagares and see if he can get hot at the plate.
"We've talked about it," Collins said. "But then you run the risk that you're not going to get [Jordany] Valdespin in the game. We've tried to mix and match as best we can, but as far as defense goes, this guy is probably the best we've got. Even though Jon Niese is pretty much a ground-ball pitcher, against Cole, we can't let them have too many runs. I thought we'd put our best defender out there."
David Wright, who boasts a career .327 average against Hamels, said the Mets aren't panicking about their recent three-game losing streak. Wright, the team's captain, said that New York knows what it has to do to be productive, and sometimes that means being patient through a tough stretch.
"We tend to hit our best when we work counts and get the starter out of there early," he said. "But when you have pitchers that pound the strike zone like the guys have done the last couple games, you really can't go up there with the mentality of taking pitches, because you'll end up [behind]. When you get a pitcher that throws strikes, it forces us to be a little more aggressive than we'd like to be."
• David Wright snapped a 77-game errorless streak -- the longest in franchise history for a third baseman and the longest current stretch at the position by a big leaguer -- on a ground ball in the first inning Sunday. Wright charged the ball and bobbled it before throwing to first too late to get the runner.
• Famed actor Don Cheadle, nominated for an Academy Award for his work in "Hotel Rwanda," threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday. Cheadle, 48 years old, threw from the top of the mound to backup catcher Anthony Recker, and his pitch bounced right before the plate.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.