Closer Frank Francisco ailing

Updated: June 24, 2012, 1:14 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Mets closer Frank Francisco, who created a stir by labeling his crosstown rivals "chickens," may have injured himself during Friday night's save against the Yankees.

Francisco said his left oblique area stiffened after he cooled down after that game. He tried to play catch before Saturday's game to test the injured rib area, but the discomfort did not subside.

Manager Terry Collins said Francisco was unavailable to pitch during Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Yankees. Collins was unsure how long the closer may be out.

"I felt a little sore after the game last night, but I thought it was normal," Francisco said. "I put ice on. Today I feel a little worse. I went outside anyway and threw to see if it was something minor. I still feel it."

Francisco said he had not felt irritation during Friday's save -- only afterward.

"After I got cold, I started feeling a little bit sore," he said.

The prognosis?

"Wait until tomorrow and see if I feel better," he said. "We'll go day by day."

Francisco, in the first season of a two-year, $12 million deal, has converted 18 of 21 save chances.

His unavailability, whether short-term or lengthier, would be seriously damaging to a bullpen that already owns the highest ERA in the majors at 5.30.

Bobby Parnell and Jon Rauch have closing experience, but Collins more recently had been de-emphasizing them and using 41-year-old Miguel Batista as the primary setup man to Francisco.

The Mets are only carrying six relievers this weekend, rather than the typical seven. And with Francisco active but unavailable, they really only have five. So they could look to Triple-A Buffalo for help.

Among the logical candidates, Pedro Beato is having the most success. Ramon Ramirez is on a major league rehab assignment for a right hamstring strain with the Bisons, but he and Jenrry Mejia have struggled in relief roles with the Triple-A club.

Elvin Ramirez was demoted Friday when the Mets activated infielder Ronny Cedeno from the disabled list. He only would be eligible to return to the major league club if Francisco landed on the DL.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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