Morning Mets Notes: Frank Francisco Throws off Mound

By Matt Musico

It may not be something many Mets fans are looking forward to seeing, but Frank Francisco took a step forward in getting ready for the 2013 season, throwing off a mound yesterday for the first time since reporting to Port St. Lucie last month. According to reports, there was no issue with his recent elbow inflammation, and Terry Collins heard Francisco threw rather hard.

Aug 18, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Frank Francisco (48) throws in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Frank Frank making some progress to be in the New York bullpen this season, it’s virtually certain he’ll be starting the season on the disabled list; his lack of rehab program during the off-season and setback in camp have led Mets people to believe he won’t be ready to contribute in three weeks. In all reality, with the way Bobby Parnell is throwing this spring, I want to see him continue throwing as a closer for the duration of the Grapefruit League schedule and into the start of the season, to see how he deals with the pressures of being “the man.”

I realize he blew five of his 12 save opportunities while filling in for Francisco last season, but he wasn’t able to spend all spring preparing mentally and physically to be the team’s closer, either. At the age of 28, now is the time for the Mets to figure out exactly what Parnell’s future with the organization will be. Even if Francisco has a great season, there’s just about zero chance he’ll be back with the ballclub in 2014, and since the Mets will most likely not be competing for a playoff spot, now is the time to see if they’ll have to look for a closer via free agency next winter or not, when they’re expected to become more competitive. Collins and Dan Warthen are ready to annoint him as the team’s closer if he can continue to perform, so let’s see if he can build on the progress he made last season.

Team USA beat Canada 9-4 yesterday in Arizona to punch their ticket for the second round of the World Baseball Classic in Miami. After losing to Mexico on Friday, the Americans came back in two consecutive contests to advance. David Wright continues to be a big contributor, as he doubled, walked three times, and scored twice yesterday. He’s now hitting 5-for-11 in the three games he’s played.

While that was happening in the desert, Shaun Marcum took a major step forward in preparing himself for his rotation spot, throwing 3.2 one-hit innings against the Cardinals yesterday. Jordany Valdespin and Jamie Hoffmann provided some late-inning clutch hitting, as New York was able to pull out a 3-0 win. Adam Rubin said in his recap that Valdy is playing so well that he’s virtually a lock for the Opening Day roster. You can get your Rising Apple recap right here.

Rich Sparago continued to take a long look at the Mets bullpen, which was a glaring weakness of last year’s squad. This time, he focused on Pedro Feliciano and what his potential impact could be this season. Ellie Silfin said that having this year’s All-Star Game at Citi Field will help make the four-season old stadium feel much more like home.

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